When we are children it seems obvious to us that the adults have it all figured out.
But when we reach adulthood we start to see how little any of us understand. We find out how tenuous our hold on life is. People get ill, die, and disappear at unpredictable intervals from our lives and from life as a whole. Our inability to predict the outcomes of our actions becomes clear to us. And that we are constantly subject to forces – social, natural, historical – that are much bigger than we are.
And what do we mostly do? Pretend that we have it all together. That we understand. All the while desperately and quietly hoping that someone who knows will come along and tell us what to do.
It doesn’t take long for the cover story – whatever it is that we get up to that makes us feel secure or distracted from the uncertainty of everything – to become our life, our story about who we are. We identify ourselves with our job, money, title, house, social group, spiritual path, possessions.
We forget the true condition of our lives.
And then, sometimes, if we are lucky, we catch a glimpse of all of this – in a sprawling night sky, in the darkness of a cave, in the silence of a grove of trees, in the eyes of a child.
We remember that we’ve been taking ourselves much too seriously. And we experience for a moment the wonder and awe of living in the midst of a vast and extraordinary mystery that we can never figure out.