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"I remain almost certainly uncertain."

I've grown to deeply suspect certainty of any stripe. My skepticism about even death and taxes sort of drives me forward or at least seems to sustain me. I use the word 'seems' more than any other, for I sense a lurking uncertainty behind my every observation, my every utterance. I dread the day that I might be called to tell 'the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth' because I deeply doubt my or anyone's ability to satisfy that injunction. I might at best prove capable of telling the story as I believe at that moment I witnessed it, but I should remain uncertain if I saw what happened or some mix of projections of what I expected to happen and what never really happened at all. On the face of this confession might lie a tragic disconnect or a godsend of an appreciation. I can't be certain which or even if either might be the case. I suppose that this means I get to choose.

Earlier in my existence, I thought that certainty lay near the purpose of my existence.
I might accumulate knowledge such that most of my experience would be wrapped in some form of sure bet. I'd have learned where to walk and where to avoid, what to eat and what to decline, who to associate with and who to shun, but this operation has never actually run that way. The examples I employed to guide me always seemed sufficiently unique as to leave a rather glaring gap between what I knew and what I wanted or needed to know. This apparent feature confused me for the longest time. I vacillated between believing myself rather stupid or terribly insightful, again uncertain which pole to properly classify my confusion. Only the absence of certainty seemed defining, and if certainty served as the success metric, I could only properly classify myself as a serial failure.

The Muse can testify to the number of situations
I shrink from. I entered a newly-opened bakery this afternoon, an achievement which I consider a major success because I rarely enter a new place unaccompanied. My sense of uncertainty threatens to overwhelm me, as if I would reasonably find that the typical rules of engagement had been suspended inside in favor of ones I could never comprehend. The bakery could have been a bitcoin shop, accepting only figmentary payments, refusing cash. They might have been a Serbo-Croatian-speaking shop where I would be rendered speechless. I know that these concerns seem like silly examples of my uncertainty, but they were not silly-seeming to me. I swallowed hard and entered anyway. Other than discovering that this bakery produces chocolate sourdough bread, a label that instantly summoned my gag reflex, I found a passable sourdough baguette and left satisfied and not nearly as embarrassed as the counter clerk who had been forced to admit that they were out of baguette bags and so tried to fit the long monster into a demure cookie bag with string handles. I just carried the bare loaf out without even a baleful blush.

I declare that I've about weened myself off of my former quest for certainty, but my hesitance to enter new places discloses my self-deception. I certainly lack the confident strides of anyone intoxicated with their own sense of certainty. I'm more likely to stumble over my two feet upon entering. I really am stumped as to how I might properly engage. I sometimes project some counter-phobic presence, making a joke or feigning indifference, but I'm almost certain that certainty never fuels me. I confided to The Muse that until this afternoon, I was uncertain that I would be able to write those twelve poems by Christmas Eve, only two and a half days away now. But then I sat down and cranked out two pretty fine ones. This buoyed my confidence if not my certainty. I don't much hold out for certainty anymore and somewhat doubt that it could possibly exist for me. I remain almost certainly uncertain.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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