Uncertainty is the only certainty there is,
and knowing how to live with insecurity
is the only security.
[John Allen Paulos]
I learned my lesson. It took me over sixty years and repeated crises, but I finally learned my lesson. There is no such thing as security. Uncertainty is the norm. Uncertainty is to be expected. Coming to grips with that, just like coming to grips with my own mortality, set me free to embrace life.
Several years ago, someone in a lawyer’s office made a mistake and put my name on an arrest warrant. I was in the middle of a sunny, summer work day when a police person came to my home office and hauled me to the county jail. I was terrified, and realized that nobody knew where I was since I live alone and wouldn’t be missed. It was eight hours before someone figured out that the wrong person had been arrested and released me. Everything about my stay in jail was scary and insulting. For awhile, it left me with a fear that law enforcement would make another mistake.
My parents survived the 1930s depression. Mama was a school teacher so she could get work even when Daddy was laid off from work. They worked, planned, saved, kept their debts paid off, and provided amply for their children. They did all of the things responsible people were supposed to do, then Daddy acquired Altzheimers after he retired. Over the years, the disease ate up all of their savings as it ate away at his brain. After he died, Mama sold her house in order to have money to live on.
I learned that, if we are blessed to wake in the morning, we can never say what our day will hold. We can save for our future in a well-advised, secure manner, and then see our savings evaporate in a few months. We can be conscientious about our financial integrity only to see a careless mistake or a crook rob us of that in an instant. We can lose loved ones, lose jobs, lose homes, lose our health no matter how careful and responsible we have been.
I also learned that I have a choice. I can choose to fill this moment as full as possible. I meet my responsibilities, but I also laugh and play. Things are going to happen whether or not we laugh and enjoy ourselves, or we worry ourselves sick. Neither attitude will stave off disaster but choosing to enjoy the moment makes the trip a lot better not only for ourselves but also for those around us.