What Happens Next?

My most recent unknown started here. (Photo by Steve Kramer http://taochild.wordpress.com/)


I’ve noticed that many people lately live fearful lives.

There seem to be many causes for this:

  • The economy: which leaves financial security and career opportunities unknown
  • Nature: which leaves the question of the entire earth surviving into the future unknown
  • An aging society: which leaves us open to more unknown diseases and health issues
  • Overwhelming possibilities: which makes more people feel like something is wrong when their path to “success” is unknown
  • Loss of community: which makes people feel alone in the unknown.

Does anyone see the common word here? It is the unknown.

Many of my friends have been feeling this fear lately. Either in person or on Facebook, or even in the blogosphere, people are becoming overwhelmed by the unknown, as I was reminded reading A. Hab’s post yesterday.

I am no exception, but I don’t want to live in fear anymore.

I have been living with the unknown for several years now. Actually, I think it has been longer than that. I entered the unknown when I graduated with a Ph.D and then had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life. I’d achieved many dreams, but didn’t have any new clear dreams or goals. I moved further into the unknown when my husband, through the politics of academia, was not given tenure in his position–just as the economy crashed. So we moved blindly forward hoping to find a place to land safely and call home.

We landed on our feet, but we still live in the unknown because this does not feel like home. I am beginning to discover new dreams, but that becomes harder because I am now fully ensconced in early Middle Age. For some reason it feels harder to dream big when you have to support a family and compete against people half your age. But shouldn’t experience be more valuable than youth? You would think so.

Everyday I wake up into the unknown.

Today I woke up without a clue what to write about, and almost a fear of facing this blog. ย Today I woke up without a plan, without a goal, without a known.

But, as I write this, I know that’s okay. I have survived the unknown, and I will continue to survive the unknown.

That’s the only thing I really know. And I think that has to be enough.

Would anyone care to join me on an exciting adventure into the unknown? I promise you, it will be exciting and take us to places we could never imagine.

And, to reveal my inner Gleek–Rachel’s song from yesterdays show really goes along with how I’m feeling today:

28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Taochild
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 08:26:11

    One of the values of living in the moment is that the unknown no longer has as much power over you. By fully embracing the moment, you know what can be known, because you are directly experiencing it. Thus you only need to face the unknown one small bit at a time, as each new moment unfolds before you, and it is much easier to make choices about where to put your feet next.


    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 16, 2011 @ 08:39:58

      But sometimes that is the hardest thing to do, live in the moment. Sigh. Just added one of your photos to the post.


      • Taochild
        Mar 16, 2011 @ 09:02:45

        Even if you can only manage it for a moment, it is a moment of peace and calm, thus stilling the fear. A fresh start to face the unknown at least…


  2. Tori Nelson
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 09:52:57

    Ok. I could not have LOVED that episode of Glee any more if I tried. I also love you and A.Hab’s thoughts on living fearlessly. So much time and energy wasted on worrying and it doesn’t improve or enhance anything. Best to just wake up open to the day’s possibilities!


  3. Mrs. H.
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 09:53:14

    My dad has really gotten into the “living in the moment” thing. It’s just about the only thing he says to me when I express anxiety about the future or regret about the past. And I can really appreciate what he’s saying and where he’s coming from…but he’s in his mid-50s, while I’ll be 30 this year. And I do think that being in different stages of our lives makes living in the moment either appropriate or not.

    I’m at the stage in my life where all I have is a future. I don’t have a normal present moment. In fact, whatever normal present moment I may have is about to dissolve in August. Surely there’s a balance for me where I can enjoy my present moment while preparing for the future? My dad, on the other hand, has been in his career for my entire life (longer, actually), and he’s looking forward to retirement in the next decade, which brings its own obstacles with it. I guess maybe for him, living in the moment helps him stay focused on the task at hand (he’s not retired yet and still has a job to do) so that he doesn’t get distracted by the future that will eventually get here.

    But these are all guesses. Frankly, I’ve never been able to fully develop these thoughts with my dad because he tends to have the attitude that young people are incapable of contributing to this kind of conversation. So my thoughts aren’t really as developed as they otherwise might be…which means I’m essentially talking out my ass.

    The bottom line is this: I think it’s extremely NORMAL to consider and even experience anxiety about the unknown future. What is not productive, though, is sitting around on our hands worrying about that unknown future. Maybe that’s what the “in the moment” theory is about–doing what you can now to prepare for the unknown future.


    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 16, 2011 @ 10:06:44

      It is so funny to be in this position I’m in now–a woman in her 40s. I don’t think of that as old, by any means, but I daily interact with people whose lives are all in the future, as you put it. I’m also dealing with my aging parents whose lives are now in the past. And then there is me, precariously balanced between the past and the future., a tightrope of uncertainty. I don’t want to dwell on my mistakes but my future closes in ahead of me, like a tunnel with no other exits. I don’t want that. I have so much potential still, but I find myself helping people deal with their futures (something I love to do) while being completely unsure of my own. So maybe living in the NOW is where I need to be, because if I take a step too far in directions that lead of the tightrope, I’m going to fall into the abyss. But, if I take incremental steps forward on the tightrope, eventually I will get somewhere, won’t I?


  4. vixter2010
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 11:29:53

    I think we all struggle with this, I know I do. Life by its whole nature is unknown, you can never plan, never know if you make the right choices or choose the right path and you never know how finite it will be. Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball so I could see it will all work out in the end, if only! I will def join you on your journey and I hope we both find out happy ending.
    On a lighter note, I love Glee – we’re behind here so I haven’t seen that one but I can’t wait. Yay for Gleeks ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 16, 2011 @ 11:45:24

      Thanks, Vix. If you get that crystal ball working, let me know.
      I will resist the temptation to spoil Glee, but can I just say the best kiss ever happened last nigh. ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Trackback: Live while you are living « The odd ramblings of a mind that does not quite fit
  6. Lyn
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 11:44:00

    This is wonderful news, Lisa. Congratulations, I can’t wait to read about how your journey continues developing from here…

    I’ve noticed this fear of the unknown too and how it can cause people all kinds of problems. Essentially, it seems to boil down to a fear of death. (Sorry, oops, I spoke a taboo!) The response, as you’ve said, is normally to try and create feelings of control, but control is an illusion. We never really have control, we just feel like we do…

    One of the key things I’ve learnt is it’s important to seek out ways of controlling your desire to control situations. Bizarre, but incredibly liberating.

    p.s. Mrs H is right when she says she doesn’t feel the need to live in the moment because all she has in front of her is a future. Her future.

    Of course, like the rest of us, she does not know specifically how many years, months, days, minutes and seconds that future holds.

    I feel that some people just feel they gain something valuable by reflecting on their mortality in order to live their life differently and some people don’t feel they gain anything from that at all.

    It is a shame your dad won’t have that discussion with you though, Mrs H. Don’t take it too personally…if he’s only just trying to live in this way, he may not want to talk about it too much because he might not have the answers to give you and facing the fact that he hasn’t developed his own answers yet could affect his feelings of security in what he’s doing. Possibly… Retirement is such a difficult transition, isn’t it?

    It’s not always an age thing though…I’m only 34 and I’ve been actively involved in these kinds of discussions, well, since I could talk I think ๐Ÿ™‚ x


    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 16, 2011 @ 11:50:25

      Thanks for the insight Lyn. I’d like to think I’m not really thinking about death, but that would be a lie. Well, sort of. As I watch my Dad losing his identity to Alzheimer’s it makes me think even more about what my identity is, and what I want to be remembered for.


  7. TheIdiotSpeaketh
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 12:29:18

    If there are complimentary snacks….count me in!! When do we leave? What do you wear when going into the unknown? I hope shorts are OK because that is all I wear….


    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 16, 2011 @ 12:33:14

      Oh Mark, I believe you journey into the unknown on a daily basis. And what’s more, you are a great guide into that unknown. Tour guides who travel with humor while wearing shorts are the best in my book.


  8. Aligaeta
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 14:11:58

    Living in the ‘unknown’ is a frightening place with a lot of company in these times. I am still looking for that direction, when not too long ago I had it all figured out, before the bottom fell out. Then I finished my BA, thinking that would open opportunities… now going to those with MA’s. I feel for you being in the same place with your Ph.D. But, we are a thoughtful, creative bunch! Hang tough, Lisa.


    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 16, 2011 @ 17:06:13

      Sadly, I think my MFA and Ph.D have only served to make me a really expensive, over-educated but under qualified person. I have to create my own opportunities now.


  9. lifeintheboomerlane
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 14:34:31

    There’s the great unknown of events that we feel we have no control over, all the natural and manmade disasters that bombard us daily. And then there is our individual lives. So many people believe they are victims to their own lives. But we live in choice, every minute. The truth is we create our own reality. That’s where our power is. Not only can we live in the moment, we can create the moment.


    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 16, 2011 @ 17:04:50

      I love the way you put that, “we can create the moment.” Here’s to creating fabulous moments.


  10. nrhatch
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 15:35:04

    Good for you. Facing fear and shoving it out of the way is wonderful.

    Deepak Chopra talks about the power of uncertainty ~ and his kids pray for even MORE uncertainty in their lives as they celebrate the New Year.

    In uncertainty, all things are possible.


  11. Sandi Ormsby
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 18:01:30

    God places my family every once in awhile in very unfamiliar, uncomfortable settings. I’ve learned to just go with it and know somehow it works out…

    When I was pregnant with my son (1st child) my husband’s work was preparing to close the doors. We had time to prepare. It happened while on my maternity leave, which I only got paid by the state, but we were somewhat prepared to buckle down on costs. Except…my work got into a big lawsuit with Cingular Wireless, which esentially, they lost all their customers and closed their doors when I was just a mom for 3 weeks.

    So, here we were, living in a 1 bedroom apt. with a new baby and I had to stop my maternity leave immediately, to go do temp work. I feel ripped off from enjoying my time with the baby, and my husband was more there with him. But, it worked out…we had some crappy, interesting jobs that we kind of bounced around for a year or so…

    Flash forward a few years, we have our 2nd child and eventually I move to another job that I love- and my hubby has a so-so job. We both unexpectedly get laid off! At the same time. He’s now working, and I was on unemployment for 2 years. Now, I’m no longer receiving those benefits and have a somewhat P/T job. It’s working so far, and my hubby is starting to get some sales, but $$ is super tight. We’re upside down on our condo. My son is struggling with with school…list goes on…

    It always seems to work out, but MAN, we can worry the day away…I choose not to…sense of humors is the way to go! My mom said many times “honey, if you don’t learn to laugh, you are sure going to do a lot of crying in life.” I choose to laugh…complain…but laugh more! It keeps me smiling.



  12. CMSmith
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 19:00:07

    Take heart. Even those who think they know, don’t.


  13. Heather Henry
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 01:15:24

    I used to have a lot of fears. Recently though, I’ve realized that I don’t anymore. I think what finally did it for me, was realizing that all I know is that I have today. I can’t change the past and have no idea what tomorrow will hold, so I’ve learned to truly seize the day and make the most of it. It’s also helped to realize that I need to stop worrying or over thinking everything and just go for it. I used to over analyze and then talk myself out of doing the thing I wanted to do. Today is going to go by whether I do something or not, so I want each day to count for something. Don’t let fear paralyze you. The unknown is a great adventure waiting to be explored! When I turned 40, I made a list of 40 things I wanted to do for the year I was 40 and hung it in my laundry room, so I could read it everyday while folding clothes. It was a lot of fun and because I put them out there, I actually achieved them. Singing on stage (karaoke) in front of people, that used to horrify me, now I think it’s a blast. I haven’t known you for long, but to me, you seem like a bold and courageous person who could do anything you put your mind to. I’m excited to see where your journey will take you. It’s going to be spectacular! ๐Ÿ™‚ Carpe diem!!


  14. thepetalpusher
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 20:04:05

    I am not a worrier by nature but when I was younger, I used to fret over the unknown–not-being-able-to-sleep fret. After having experienced life (I am 58), I no longer worry because I have always pulled through. So why torture or make my body sick over the unknown?

    ps I KNEW you were a Gleekster!!! It’s a great show.


    • Lisa Kramer
      Mar 18, 2011 @ 07:55:18

      Occasionally I have to remind myself that I always pull through and things always get done. Thanks for reminding me of that.


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