Uncertainty is sometimes the hardest thing of all


Photo: greekadman

In my last book, Waiting to Surface, one of the major themes was learning to live with uncertainty. Though it was a novel, it was based on my life – and I had an extreme case: My husband vanished while swimming at night and his body was never found. I had to learn to accept (slowly, painfully, but finally) that I would never know what happened.

The thing is, we all have uncertainty in our lives – there’s no guarantee when you send your child off to school or kiss your husband/wife goodbye in the morning that they will return, after all. And now we have this vast, overwhelming economic uncertainty eating away at us, our sense of security, our plans for the future. Politicians are saying that part of the financial problem is that we all feel too uncertain to spend any money (at least those of us who still have jobs and any money left to spend.) I know that I’m forgoing a lot of things because as a writer and journalist (and single mother), I have no idea what my situation will be six months from now. And yeah, it keeps me up some nights. What about you? How is the sense of uncertainty affecting you? Has it changed how you act? Changed how you feel?


5 responses to “Uncertainty is sometimes the hardest thing of all

  1. kittywampus

    Hi Emily – I followed you back here from my blog. For me, the big uncertainty isn’t the economy (although for a while I fully expected to be laid off at the end of the school year). It’s health. My husband is a two-time cancer survivor, and the naive idea I had about survivorship – that there’s a magic point in time where you can simply put it all behind – has turned out to be, well, naive. The trauma has faded and we’re at some sort of new normal now, but we’ll always live with heightened uncertainty. And I guess we can be grateful, because we *are* still living.

    I’m someone who thrives on ambiguity, but this sort of uncertainty is another beast altogether – like a feral dog lurking in the corner. You learn to live with him, but it’s hard not to keep up your guard.

  2. emilylistfield

    I sympathize and hope is he is well. I do think health uncertainty on a large scale and smaller – waiting for test results, for example – is so very hard.

  3. No, nothing has changed for me because every moment is uncertain and needs to be embraced.

  4. Thanks, Emily. Waiting for tests is the worst! Then afterward, you’ve got this false sense of security.

    Speaking of uncertainty – I moved my blog yesterday (partly under duress; I was being harassed by a commenter, and WordPress offers the option of blocking jerks). I’m now at kittywampus.wordpress.com.

  5. I loved Acts of Love and Waiting to Surface – just got The Last Goodnight and will certainly get your new book the day it comes out.

    Life is full of uncertainties – your voice captures them with warmth, suspense, pain and surprise… I had no idea until today that Waiting to Surface was based upon your reality. Not knowing is the hardest. Yet you go on!!!

    I admire your work and look forward to reading more of it.

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