The Unknown

In my last article, I ended with the question, ‘What do I do during the unknown?’ As the French would say, ‘Allez doucement’. As we English-speakers would say, ‘Let’s not get ahead of ourselves’. I confess, the French is more appealing…but this isn’t about my personal language preference.

The first rule of ‘The Unknown’ is that we SLOW DOWN. Slow down? Yes, slow all the way down.

Walk with me, if you will: you are going along your ‘planned’ life, when chaos/tragedy begins to step in. If chaos and tragedy are words that intimidate, we’ll use a term that is less threatening: ‘a series of unfortunate events’, perhaps? My dear, let me encourage you at this point to lose your attraction for ‘the comfortable’. The defining hallmark of ‘The Unknown’, is its ability to get us uncomfortable. Those who learn this early, navigate this environment with greater success.

Okay, so where was I? Oh yes…we were going along our beautifully planned life when chaos, tragedy or ‘a series of unfortunate events’ begins to weave its way into our lives. The order that defines our existence begins to fall apart (if Chinua Achebe could read this now!). If you believe that things fall apart rapidly, maybe it’s because you missed the warning signs that lurked about before the curtains in the proverbial temple were torn in two. Maybe you were distracted or filled with such aplomb that you didn’t perceive the secrets that were being revealed before the eventual avalanche. Oh yes, that is another thing that precedes a fall: pride.

I struggle to get past the point of the insidious nature of the dismantlement of your life, of your order. My struggle parallels you experience: it is barely perceptible at first and so, to the uninitiated, it is difficult to establish a pattern before you are well into it. You find yourself muddling through the unfortunate events, almost tumbling from one to the next…a bit of kinetic energy sustaining you. So much of what befalls you is easy to be dismissed as happenstance or coincidence. Well, dear reader, let me say, coincidence must be an expert marksman for it always to be hitting you, wouldn’t you say? This isn’t to get you paranoid, but rather, to help you appreciate that there is nothing such an accidental coincidence. Coincidence is real; accidental coincidence is a figment of our imagination.

When the order of your life is being dismantled, that order loses shape. Let’s be clear: order doesn’t lose shape – it changes, but it doesn’t lose shape, becoming flaccid. So if your life is beginning to take on this paradoxical nature, you are in the early stages of The Unknown. That Unknown is typified by silly, little and random unfortunate events that seem to have no relationship one to the other. If we were to look at each event as a separate and disparate occurrence, then, it would be difficult to see the relationship between one event and the next. Think of it as trying to see the relationship between the upper-left corner piece of a 5,000-piece puzzle and the bottom right corner piece of the very same puzzle. Individually, they bear little traceable relationship. However, when you piece everything together, you see that they are related.

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Because the initial stages of The Unknown are difficult to correlate, it is of utmost importance that you SLOW DOWN. At this juncture, I’ll pause to ask you, what does ‘Slow Down’ mean for you? It could mean a reduction in your time or financial commitments; it could mean stepping back and listening more. It could involve investigating more before you launch full speed ahead. I can’t answer that question for you. You have to search yourself to find the answer.

Can I share something with you? To find the answer, that too requires you to slow down.

I’ll come back after you’ve pondered a bit.

Until then, allez-y doucement! Slow down!

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