Delicious Ambiguity

by Kathy on May 26, 2011 · 6 comments

in Abby, Bob, Change, Family, Fear, Hope, Inspiration, Molly, Peace, Quotes, Sean, The Future, Transitions

My friend Loribeth at The Road Less Traveled has this wonderful quote listed on the sidebar of her blog:

I wanted a perfect ending.

Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end.

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.

Delicious ambiguity.

~ Gilda Radner

The first time I came across it, during one of my visits to her blog, I was blown away. I so LOVE this quote! I feel that it summarizes my life/experience and I especially like the concept of “delicious ambiguity.” I really appreciate the idea of trying to embrace ambiguity, as we spend so much of our lives in states and times of uncertainty.

During our five year journey through secondary infertility and loss I really struggled with being comfortable with ambiguity in my life. I think at the time I believed what we were experiencing was a temporary state of being. Though in some ways that was true, unfortunately that “temporary state” lasted much longer than I ever imagined that it could or would.

When Abby finally came along, somewhat unexpectedly, after all that we had been through, I felt like we had “arrived” once and for all. It seemed like so many of Bob, Sean and my hopes and dreams for our life and our family were coming to fruition. What I didn’t realize at the time, and I am starting to understand better and appreciate more now, is that our lives are almost always in a state of flux and transition.

As I shared in this post, over the past seven months we have been trying to sell our house to be able to buy and move into another house that we have a contract on. It has been difficult for our family this year to have to try to keep our home “show ready” as much as possible and to live in this state of uncertainty as to if and when we will get an offer on our house that would put us in a position to finally be able to close on and to move into our “forever home” (as one of my friends refers to homes that we buy and intend to live in for the rest of our lives).

However, since I cannot change our situation right now, other than taking our house off the market (which at this point we do not want to do), I am doing my best to change the way I think about it.

Embrace the ambiguity.

Each time a potential buyer doesn’t pan out, not unlike all the cycles when were were trying to conceive and/or unable to sustain another pregnancy, I am trying to focus on what Gilda says in her wonderful quote,

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.

Most of the time we truly don’t know what is going to happen next in our lives and as much as that can be hard to accept and sometimes even scary, I know that I can think of many experiences in my life when “what happened next” was amazing! I would venture to say that you can also think of times in your life when you were pleasantly surprised by “what happened next.”

If you are at a transitional stage in your life, which many of us are most of the time, when you are waiting and hoping for something to happen (insert what ever that may be for you here), I encourage you today to try to think about your ambition and expectations from this perspective. I know that it is easier said than done, but I invite you to try to see that there is and can be deliciousness in ambiguity.

Awhile back I shared in this post about some of the books that helped me through our journey with our daughter Molly, during our pregnancy and after she was born and died. One that I mentioned in that blog entry, that has helped me since then and that I recommend to any of you that may currently be struggling with ambiguous situations in your life is a book by Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, of stand alone readings/meditations called Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion. I loved the idea at the time, and still do, that a person can actually learn to be comfortable uncertainty.

Thank you for reading. I invite you to share your thoughts on embracing uncertain times and finding delicious ambiguity in our lives in the comment section here. I hope, wish and pray that we can all practice embracing ambiguity as Gilda said, finding joy in our journeys and try to make the best of every moment we have in our lives.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 HereWeGoAJen May 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm

It's very difficult to live in showing condition for any prolonged period of time. I've done it.

On a side note, I just put a stuffed meatloaf into the oven. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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2 Stephanie Goodrich May 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

Kathy, you are beautiful and so is your family. As I recover from my accident I find solace in this quote as well. I'm trying to embrace "therapy" as my job as I arrive at the hospital every morning at 9a to work on deduction puzzles, word and picture games, and other types of cognitive therapies. This is a far cry from my "pre-accident" life which focused on traveling as a management consultant and daily grueling triathlon workouts. It's easy, sometimes, to get down and have a "what's this all for?" moment, but then I remember the positives – days spent with mom, my closer relationships to all my friends and family, and the discovery that my accident could have been so much worse! I have my life back, unlike so many others who have experienced traumatic brain injury. I just need to be patient and enjoy the journey. I will have a job again, and hopefully a family, one day. I may even be a competitive triathlete again. Thanks for sharing your blog with me. -Stephanie Goodrich

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3 Jjiraffe May 27, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Beautiful, gorgeous post. I love that quote: I'd never read it before. Thanks for sharing it.

Thanks so much also for nominating my posts on Stirrup Queens and for your own commentary on them. I think so many of us are struggling with so many similar feelings, and we all moved from a position of certainty to a minefield of ambiguity through tragedies and losses. It seems like nothing really in American culture prepares you for the middle, after the perfect ending of a wedding. Maybe "Glee". (Seriously! I think it's a metaphor for life.). But
Buddhist teachings seem to get the "middle" more. Thanks for the recommendation on the book. I intend to check it out.

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4 Knock knock - it's cancer! May 28, 2011 at 8:38 am

I have a thought. Bare with me:

I used to work as a telemarketer when I was really young. GASP, I know. Don't hold it against me 🙂

We were told to call as many people as we can, because most would say 'no' but that it was really a 'numbers game' and eventually one would say 'yes'.

As you know, telemarketers are most hated and it can be easy to get discouraged. So this is what I did that worked for me like a charm.

I made myself a big poster board (get it from the dollar store) and I wrote down 100 'NO'-s in 100 individual spots. Then in the middle I wrote a big red 'YES' … that was the thought then, for every "YES" you'll hear 100 "NO"s first.

So every time someone hung up on me, or said no, or called me names, I'd scratch one of the no's of my list. My attitude had changed dramatically. I couldn't wait to hear my next "NO" so I could finally get closer to that big red YES.

And, lo' and behold, as my attitude changed, I averaged a YES for every 80 or so NO's … true story 🙂

Moral of the story – each 'defeat' brings you closer to the 'goal' – whatever that may be… so embrace the NO's … it'll get you to the YES faster.

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5 loribeth July 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm

So glad you like the quote! — I have a fridge magnet of it! ; ) I did read Gilda's book some years ago, pre-infertility & stillbirth. Needless to say, I appreciate her words much more these days. Did you know she also struggled with infertility? There are some who wonder whether her fertility treatments contributed to her ovarian cancer. 🙁

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