Stoicism | Learning | Philosophy | Poetry

Playing At the Edges of Knowing

I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
truly I know
our part is not knowing, but looking, and touching, and loving,
which is the way I walked on,
softly,
through the pale-pink morning light.

— Mary Oliver, Bone

Like the beach Mary Oliver walked in this poem, life ebbs and flows. We either surf the rip or get pulled under by it. This latest period of chaos could overwhelm us or strengthen our resolve to persevere in the face of it.

We never quite know all that we seek to understand. Just when we think we’ve got it figured out the world throws another curveball at you. Coming out of a pandemic, thinking that things will finally get better and… they don’t. Not yet anyway. You know that this too shall pass, somehow. But life asks us to wait just a bit longer still. Or life tells you that your time has come, sooner than you expected it to. Just when you thought you’d arrived.

Our part is not meant to be easy. Our part is not knowing, but staying with it anyway. Our part is to support one another in the face of uncertainty.

Amor Fati, or “love of fate”, is the stoic’s answer to these times. Amor is not quite right. We don’t have to love our fate. But accepting it frees us to focus on the moments we have together. While there’s still time.

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