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Apr 23 2013

I Have No Idea What Happens Next

By at 9:54 am

uncertainty ahead signI have “control issues.” Anyone who has spent an hour with me knows this, and loves and respects me because or despite it. It’s what makes me good at my job as a festival director. It keeps our domestic life running on track. I have learned to embrace this part of my personality, to work with it.

I used to create “18-month plans.” And yet, today I can’t see even three months into the future.

My husband is in the last weeks of his PhD, with no offers yet for the fall. And I have no idea what comes next.

Sure, there are many “possibilities.” But what’s crazy about them is that they represent such different visions of my future. Six months from now I could finally be living near my family in NY/NJ, or I could be living in Israel. I could be the rich wife of a hedge-fund guy. Or, most bizarrely, I could be in the same exact place I am right now.

How do I handle the uncertainty? How do I keep from breaking down when I see the anxiety our situation causes even the most casual observer?

Let’s call it the zen of chaos. It’s simply too much to contemplate. I can’t map out four mutually exclusive versions of the next two years of my life. So, miraculously, I just don’t.

Instead, I live in the moment. It’s not hard with a full-time job and two little kids, after all: wake-up, drop-off, work, pick-up, dinner, bath, bed. Who has time to think about tomorrow, beyond, “What am I going to pack for lunch?” Certainly not me. And so in this way, day by day, week by week, I defer the terror of the unknown and the uncontrollable.

There are days when this is harder than others. When it reduces me to extreme grumpiness and tears, sends me to the candy stash or the liquor cabinet. But more often than not, when thinking about it gets to be too much I just…don’t.

As the last week has reminded us, control is just an illusion. Our plan for our life can be destroyed, even violently, at any time. Or we can be blessed with surprising opportunities we could never have imagined. The only thing we know for sure is this moment.

And for the moment, I choose not to freak out.

I know that repression isn’t the healthiest thing in the world. But for me, for now, it’s working just fine.

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