Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Certainty of Uncertainty

For observant Jews, there's a prayer that you say the first moment that you awaken in the morning. The Hebrew, translated into English, says:

I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

In a life filled with uncertainty, it seems like a good idea to be thankful for getting to start living another day. It could be your last--or your best. You never know. The word "God" doesn't appear in this prayer, so the person can (and even should) be literally be lying in bed at the time they say it.

Last Friday, Dave Souza, a fine guitarist with whom I've been playing the blues monthly, died suddenly, on his 64th birthday. I didn't know Dave well, but based on the tremendous outpouring of grief by those who were close he was a great person and a wonderful friend. Dave said he wanted to live to age 64 and he just made it--but he's gone way too soon.

For months, my friend Jennifer Ong mounted a strong campaign for the 20th Assembly district seat. I received no fewer than 12 mailings from her over the weeks leading up to yesterday's contest. I know her and she is a fine, caring and hardworking woman who would make a great assemblywoman. But--with 100 percent of the votes counted, she came in a strong second. Uncertainty.

How do we deal with uncertainty? We could decide to do nothing, for fear of failure, but that makes every day an unhappy one. We could try to set up some things in life that feel certain, but the only truly guaranteed thing in life is its end. Few of us want to spend much time thinking about that, and even then, we normally don't know the day or hour of our final appointment.

I know that every day, after I realize I'm awake, my brain resets to where I am today--what I'm looking forward to, worried about, having to deal with. I'm lucky, because most of my life is filled with happy things--a loving partner, two healthy and handsome grown sons, good health for my age, my own home, a steady job, the chance to play the bass with others, a new car to write about every week... The list goes on. But not one thing on that list is assured. I need to remember to be thankful--but plan for the worst at the same time. I wish I were better at doing both.

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