50 Roads #19 – THE ROAD WHERE I HAD NO IDEA
I’m going to start this road by telling you that “I don’t know” has become one of my favorite phrases, and it’s almost always true when I say it. Sometimes I think I don’t know but I actually do, and sometimes I know that I know but I’m too afraid of saying it out loud. But most of the time when I say “I don’t know,” it is positively true.
It wasn’t always this way though. Somewhere along the way, I adopted the belief that if you didn’t know something, you were inferior. I have been one who asks every question that crosses my mind from the time I could first form a sentence. Because I really wanted to know about everything! I quickly learned in elementary school, as well as middle school and high school that kids laugh at you when you ask a lot of questions, and scoff that you had to ask. So, I always thought everyone knew but me. But the laughing didn’t deter me from asking questions, it just made me think that I was the dumbest one in the class.
Then when I became an adult and I would attend meetings with other adults, I would always raise my hand and ask question after question, making sure I truly understood. It was then that other adults would pull me aside after the meeting and say, “thank you for asking those questions, we were all wondering the same thing.”
What? Then why didn’t you ask?
What if the kids in school didn’t know either . . . and they just didn’t want anyone to think they didn’t know? What if I wasn’t dumb after all . . . just curious?
I have since learned that almost no-one wants to admit when they don’t know something, especially when they think they SHOULD know it.
And ideas are a whole other issue when it comes to knowing.
The Road Where I Had No Idea is the road where my prolific ideas left me, and my knowing left me. My questions even left me. I was lost in every way on that road, or I thought I was.
As a person who usually has more ideas than I could ever dream of making into reality, it was a terrifying phase in my life when suddenly I had no idea what to do next. Not a single idea . . . nothing. And I certainly didn’t KNOW anything for sure.
That happened shortly after we left Idaho and all hell started breaking loose internally. And the weight of all of the burdens were so heavy that all I could do is try to hold them up, I could not think of one other thing to do.
I had no idea. I knew nothing for sure.
Just this morning as I started to write about this road, I felt such similar feelings. It is now September, and I am up in the mountains with no internet, no cell service and no electricity. There are familiar feelings both because it’s just about the time we left Idaho, and because the last few days have been a bit of a struggle in my current life, making it easy to remember the “I have no idea” feeling.
Yep, I’m back on a little stretch of a very familiar road right now. But I’ve been down this road before and I just have to remember that it’s not an eternal road even if I can’t see where it ends or where the turn-offs are.
At this exact moment, we are up in the mountains camping after spending the summer at Wild West Mustang Ranch with our friends, West and Kami. I am sitting in my RV, using my laptop powered with a solar battery that takes a large part of the day to charge. I will write until it goes dead and then I will take it back out to the solar setup in our red truck and let it charge again. When I tried to start writing this morning, I had a million notes ready to elaborate about this road. Well, as luck would have it, when I woke up at 4am I was so cold that I could hardly move my fingers and toes. The heater was off for some reason. I got up to switch it on and it wouldn’t work.
It was about 35 degrees outside.
I figured we were out of propane so I decided I would wait until 6am to wake Marq up and tell him, because he needs lots of sleep to recover from the accident he had a few days ago (that’s the kind of week we’ve had.) So I sat here in the cold and I wrote on the battery power left from yesterday until my computer went dead. To get to the solar plug-ins, it’s a walk outside and across the gravel, so I put my shoes on and headed out into the cold darkness to plug it in. And I committed to learning how to change the propane tank so I don’t have to ever need someone to do it for me again, I was SO COLD.
We’ve been here for 5 days. We came high high high up into these mountains last week because all of us who live at the ranch together were very sick. We were sure that we had Covid because we had almost all of the symptoms, but a trip to the hospital for testing showed that nope, it’s not Covid.
It was however, something very contagious because all 4 of us . . . Kami, West, Marq and me . . . we all contracted the same sickness. And it’s a doozy, it has knocked 4 go-getters straight down on our tushies.
We left because West and Kami were expecting some beloved guests at the ranch, about 20 of them, and we didn’t want to pass this sickness on to them. So we all packed up our RVs and enough food for 5-7 days, and the horses and our computers and work equipment and we all had BIG PLANS that we would get so much done while we were here. Things haven’t gone according to that plan. What we HAVE done is a lot of breathing treatments, a lot of eating of soup, a lot of fire building and a lot of coughing, sneezing and blowing our noses.
And a lot of readjustments to our plans, because just last week we all told each other about the big things we are ready to do and build as we go into Fall and Winter. We all had big and exciting things to work on.
And then we got sick.
But we still thought we could all get so much done up here while we recover and quarantine.
So West and Marq had some horses to train, they were super excited to get started even though they were both sick. They’d been working with them a few hours a day when Marq got kicked by the biggest horse and knocked down with a whole lot of force. And turns out, he broke his right shoulder. He is right-handed. We took a trip into town to the doctorr and got X-rays. Tomorrow we have to drive somewhere with cell service and talk to an orthopedic surgeon.
And I had big plans to finish an online course while I was here, but my voice is still gone. I started feeling a little bit better yesterday, then it rained all day. I have to kick things into gear because Marq is not going to be able to work for a while, and it’s going to be up to me.
So here I am again, I have no idea what to do next. I have no idea how to make up for this time we are losing and I have no idea how to make up for the financial resources we are going to lose during his recovery. So many obstacles. So much discouragement. So many unknowns. I have no idea.
I cried a lot. I got really angry. I pulled out old journals and read them and I kept seeing this pattern of not knowing what to do next. And then I realized that the next part of the pattern needs changing. That instead of freaking out and spiraling down into despair, I need to embrace the I HAVE NO IDEA ROAD.
I’ve been down it SO MANY TIMES and it hasn’t killed me yet. In fact, it has often been the catalyst for innovative and resourceful solutions that never would have materialized otherwise. Sometimes the only reason we do something fresh and brave is because we have no other choice.
I don’t know how this is all going to work out. My husband does SO MANY ESSENTIAL THINGS in our life that he’s not going to be able to do for a while. I have no idea what we will do now.
Sometimes I feel like I know. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know. I pretend to know. I pretend not to know.
What is KNOWING, anyway? This is a question that has shown up on so many of the roads I’ve traveled, and I still don’t have a solid answer. That’s right, I don’t know if I know and I don’t even know what KNOW really means.
When we left Idaho 2 years ago, we had no idea where we were going. We had ideas about where we’d like to go, but had no idea how we were going to end up there. We had no idea what was going to happen next. We had no idea who we were going to become or not become.
And here we are 24 months later, living this very unorthodox and unpredictable life, and most days we absolutely love it. But we have no idea where we will be a year from now.
We live in a time in history where none of us know if we will be going to work next week, or the if the kids will be going to school. We don’t know if the stores will be open or closed, or if countries across the world will be open or closed. We have all learned together to embrace I DON’T KNOW, or atleast survive it.
But there are still things that are sure. TODAY. And that’s what you gotta do in times like these, find the things that are sure TODAY, or even just IN THIS MOMENT . . . and let that be enough, not try to make things certain and sure for next week or next month or next year (or even the next minute.)_
Does anything feel sure anymore? I think when we can’t find things that feel sure, we suffer a lot . . . we suffer to the point fo complete paralyzation.
So sometimes on roads like these, I just make a list of what I know for sure is SURE. Just in this moment. It makes me feel a little bit better AND it reminds me that tomorrow there will be more sure things, and the day after that. And that sure things will show up that I never could have expected, really good sure things that act as a little stepping stone to get just a little bit further.
There are times that all we can hope for is just a place to take one step forward, and as for the rest of the steps . . . we have no idea. Just because we don’t know, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The next step forward will always exist, lots of them will. Sometimes they just don’t show up until our foot is in the air ready to land on them.
Shortly after we set off as nomads, the 2020 Pandemic started. That’s when I started writing down things that were sure IN THIS MOMENT. I found my journal and here’s what I wrote . . .
What are the sure things TODAY?
Today I am breathing in and out
Today I am alive
Today it is March 2020
Today I am 48 years old
Today I have been married for 30 years
Today I have 5 children and 3 bonus children and 4 grandchildren (5 soon!)
Today my husband and our children and grandchildren are alive and well and in loving and supportive relationships – they all have everything they need
Today the sun came up right on time
Today the sky is blue with white puffy clouds, it is cool and sunny
Today the leaves are starting to show up on trees and lots of flowers are starting to bloom on trees and from the ground
Today I am practicing social-distancing right along with the rest of the country and much of the world
Today I have the internet to stay connected
Today I have just about any kind of music I could ever want at my disposal
Today I could learn just about anything I could ever dream of learning with the click of a few links
Today I could connect to just about anyone in my life on video, text, email
Today I have enough to eat and drink
Today I have art supplies
Today I have a warm place to sleep and work and rest and relax
Today I am of sound mind and heart and I can choose to spend my time focusing on things that bring peace instead of anxiety
It’s interesting that most of these answers are still true, though there’s no way I could have known that they would be. Life went on, things worked out somehow. They always have somehow. That’s something I can know for sure, that life is going to go on.
After that road, I started to ask myself these questions every time I find myself on I HAVE NO IDEA roads in other places . . . the fact is, there are lots of roads called I HAVE NO IDEA all over the world. . . so these are good questions for those roads, and they have become a way of life for me.
- What if I really don’t need to know what’s going to happen tomorrow and next week and next month RIGHT NOW?
- What if I really don’t need to know if there’s a purpose to all of this RIGHT NOW?
- What if I really don’t have to know how I WANT things to turn out RIGHT NOW?
- What if I really don’t have to know who I will become because of all of this RIGHT NOW?
- I wonder if I could relax into not knowing and just EXPERIENCE my life for a while? Could I? What would that feel like?
I started learning on The Road Where I Had No Idea to be gentle and kind and merciful and HUMANE to myself. I started learning that I don’t want to require more of myself than I have to give, or that life has to give! I decided not to bully myself into figuring out how I was going to get through this year and next year and the next decade of my life. Just TODAY. Just THIS MOMENT.
So, dear fellow wonderer,
How have you been handling the times in life when you HAVE NO IDEA? And
How could you show mercy to yourself by looking at the things that are sure RIGHT NOW and let that be enough?
Tomorrow, we will go on another journey, this time to THE ROAD MADE OF MIRRORS. And you’ll see how sometimes THE ROAD WHERE YOU HAVE NO IDEA leads you right back inside to your own truth.
I love you. We are gonna be okay.