Understanding the Hidden Value of Not Knowing

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I seem to be at a point in my life where a lot of unknowns are popping up. New opportunities have presented themselves, which is exciting, but that doesn’t change this very real fact;

 The “unknown” is not my favorite thing.

Exotic sounding words such as “mystery”, “magic”, “possibility” – that saturate our Instagram feeds make the “unknowns” in life seem so exciting. I should be having fun entertaining all these new, enticing scenarios - at least that’s what I tell myself, when really I’m resisting the urge to throw up in my mouth.

I like knowing. I like certainty. Much to my disdain - the older I get, the more I realize that true certainty doesn’t exist. The only constant thing in this life is change.

The older I get, the more I realize I really don’t know anything.

Back in my twenties I was training for my first marathon. At the time, I was studying in Italy. This meant the Tuscan countryside was my training ground (hard life, I know). I’d run through vineyards, by olive and cypress trees. I’d pass stunning Roman architecture, dodge little fiats and make pit stops in cafes ordering espresso with my very sad attempts at speaking Italian.

On one particular day, I was on a rather long run. It felt extra long because, as gorgeous as the countryside was, it was also very hilly. I was hoofing it up a rather large hill, panting, sweating, and questioning my life choice to run long distances instead of just getting chubby and happy in a Florentine cafe.

But oh my, the view!

A clear view of the entire city of Florence lay at the top of that hill. The Duomo was glistening in the sun. The Arno river was weaving its way through that unforgettable, breathtaking scene. The hillsides were a soft hazy green and gold; Autumn was settling into the air.

I should feel a huge swell of emotion, a wave of inspiration, a surge of insight. But I didn’t. This unnerved me. So I tried to force the emotion out of me. I tried to project joy and excitement to some kind of grand sensation into the moment. Instead, I ended up with frustration.

In retrospect, I understand why. Although exciting, it was a very uncertain time in my life. My University career was about to end. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. My understanding of who I am kept changing everyday as I discovered new things about myself during my travels. All the possibilities on the horizon were not comforting; They were an overwhelming, terrifying swell of the unknown. 

So I stopped trying to feel. I stood still, looking out at this life changing, picturesque view and spoke into the wind,

“I don’t know.”

That felt good. I yelled again,

“I DON’T KNOW!!!”

That felt even better.

I probably yelled this phrase a good five times, out into the Universe, to no one in particular. I didn’t know how I felt. I didn’t know what to expect over the next few years. I didn’t even fully know myself in my tumultuous twenties. Who really does?? 

Over the next decade my relationship with the unknown slowly changed. I became more accepting of it. I learned to enjoy how it allowed me to ask questions. I learned to use my current situation to channel it as a driving force of energy to search deeper within myself.

 One of my favorite yoga teachers encapsulates this search perfectly in a simple, wonderful quote;

 “The great Sadhana is being comfortable in the question” -- Annie Carpenter

 Sadhana is the daily spiritual practice of finding out who we are and the purpose in our life. Everyday, I am challenged to be okay with the questions, with the unknowns, with the constant flux and changes life brings my way.

 And it is a practice.

 Saying, “I don’t know” does not mean that we are failing. I believe it is the most freeing phrase in the human language. We let go of the silly burdens we put on ourselves of feeling like we should know everything and have everything figured out.

We now have the chance to go forth, search and find out at our own pace.

So I will be okay with all the questions popping up in my life. I will let go of the “what ifs”. I will welcome the unknowns sneaking its way into my well laid-out routine. I want to become comfortable in the question. And if that means yelling “I don’t know!!” into the winds of change a few dozen times, I will make it my daily practice.

Written By: Jelayna Da Silva
Jelayna is a well certified, passionate yoga teacher and writer living in downtown Toronto. Her love for yoga takes her across the GTA to teach at several studios and to multiple clients. With a background in Psychology and College Athletics she infuses her classes and writing with mental and physical awareness, not to mention a healthy sense of humor. Whether leading at a large outdoor events, in a classroom, or in the home of a client her philosophy for teaching is simple - teach with love, empathy, patience and humility. Yoga is a journey, not a destination.  www.jelaynayoga.com