Stamina, uncertainty, and how to find your joy again

Stamina. I think that is my word for this season of life we are moving through at the moment, this season of uncertainty and challenge and change.

I’ve found myself saying ‘the most’ and ‘the longest’ quite frequently of late.

“This is the longest I’ve stayed in one place, the longest I haven’t traveled.”

“This is the longest I’ve gone without a hug or any form of physical touch.”

“This is the longest I’ve been in such physical isolation, the longest time I’ve trained + danced alone.”

“This is the longest piece of writing I’ve worked on, the most consecutive days I’ve written something.”

The longest, the most, the hardest, the strongest … life, it seems, is pushing the boundaries in every way.

It’s as if in this season of stamina, I’m being prepared for something I can’t quite yet see, and life is asking, ‘Just trust me.’ Maybe I’m not meant to see the whole path before I take the next step, maybe I’m building endurance for what is to come and that is enough.

My mind tries to tell me otherwise. My mind tries to grasp and seek to gather what it can, to hold on to the things it always felt were reliable, stable, something we could count on. But the more I cling, the more I feel things slipping through my fingers like sand until I reach a point of surrender.

We can’t predict the future anymore, not like we used to. But maybe that’s okay.

On uncertainty

I’ve been speaking with some friends this past week about the uncertainty. One friend made me laugh with her kind, direct words: “You do know why you can’t predict the future, right? It’s not your job to – none of us can. You can’t predict the future because it’s meant to be written every day, with the choices you make and where you choose to spend your time. We are writing the future as we go, and there’s a sense of freedom in that when you let go of the need to know how things work out. Besides, can you imagine how boring that would be? Sixty years of life that went exactly according to plan?”

Another, a newer friend told me, “I hope you know how capable of uncertainty you are.” She spoke of the beauty and joy we can find in the surprises of everyday life, a likening it to being surrounded by a host of fireflies.

There is a wonder in uncertainty – it can bring us back to that childlike state of awe if we let go of our worries long enough to truly be present with what is right in front of us.

Still, I can’t deny how uncomfortable uncertainty can be for many of us who are used to having a plan.

An analogy

There’s a piece of common knowledge among many people who meditate: often, when you sit, there is a moment when you reach a wall within yourself but your meditation isn’t finished yet. Maybe it’s two minutes before your alarm goes off, maybe it’s ten minutes into your hour-long sit. Whatever it is, the feeling is the same.

“Ah yes, this is when the work begins.”

When we reach this point, we each have a choice to make: do we go, or do we stay?

If you go, you’ll likely just reach the same point tomorrow. No harm done.

But if you stay, you may surprise yourself. You may find a new depth to your strength you didn’t know existed; you may experience a deeper feeling of peace than you ever knew before. You grow.

Building our stamina

It occurred to me the other night that we’ve collectively reached this point in our journey as we continue to move through this difficult time. We feel we’ve reached the end of our tether, and it’s damn uncomfortable, to be sure. There is no denying that.

So how do we move forwards?

Do we numb out or do we stay?

I can’t tell you what the right decision is for you – I can barely do that for myself. Some days, staying will be too much and so you will choose to numb out. You’ll binge watch Netflix, drink an extra glass of wine or stay up too late scrolling the internet. And that’s okay.

The choice comes when we wake up the next day, the next week, the next month, and find ourselves a little more lucid than we were the day before. What then? Do you lean into the discomfort? Do you stay?

This is where the work begins.

And we get to choose again every day.

If you liked this piece, you may enjoy my full-length collection, Kitchen Table Talks: Simple Reminders + Thoughts on Life. Inspired by the conversations we have around the kitchen table when we’re just figuring life out, this book is a space for you to breathe and come home to yourself. Find out more here.