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Dwelling in Uncertainty & Snow: Everyday Magic, Day 504

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

The view from my office on the cusp of the incoming storm

When is it most difficult to dwell in uncertainty? When you’re exhausted and ready to be home and then, weather intervenes …..or not. It’s hard to tell what will happen now that a winter storm warning has been issued for the part of Vermont I and the airport are in when the warning extends until Saturday morning. All I know is that the snow is coming. It could be a few inches or well over a foot. It could turn to rain or, worst scenario, freezing rain and ice. The weather is iffy enough that the campus has just announced that the residency is officially over now so if people need to leave early to out-race the storm, they can…..that is, if they drive or have other means of getting from here to there.

Not having my own private plane, I’m here, like many others, and I’m thinking about this state of not-knowing. I looked to solace by re-reading Pema Chodron, my favorite writer on the shaky and unpredictable wiles of the life force:

Sticking with uncertainty is how we learn to relax in the midst of chaos, how we learn to be cool when the ground be-neath us suddenly disappears. We can bring ourselves back to the spiritual path countless times every day simply by exercising our willingness to rest in the uncertainty of the present moment —over and over again

The view of a campus wondering just how much snow will come

And there’s nothing like the weather outside the window or within our own bodies to bring us back to the present moment and also face-to-face to whatever habitual ruts we dive ourselves into when the going gets tough and keeps the tough from going. “Learning to stay,” as Pema Chodron writes, is about opening ourselves to the wild groundlessness of whatever ground we’re inhabiting which, in my case, is some hilly forests surrounding a small campus, all of it staring up expectantly to the sky for what will come next.

But while life is a series of travels through and dwellings in uncertainty, you could also say it’s a cabaret, especially here at Goddard where, despite the residency being over, a bunch of students are right now down the hall painting their faces, cross-dressing, rehearsing dance numbers and banging on drums in preparation for the unofficial cabaret, which begins in seven minutes. The snow may be coming, the program for tomorrow may be cancelled but the show, at least, must go on.

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