Confession: I’m 50 years old, and I’m still completely winging it.
I don’t have rock solid answers to the big questions. I don’t have a sure fire plan, long-term or short-term. Age hasn’t given me the wisdom and confidence I was always sure everyone past middle age must have. Peace of mind can be more elusive now than when I was younger. I’ve even recently had occasional moments of irrational anxiety.
The college students I work with treat me like I’m their resident Yoda, and I oblige with whatever wisdom I can summon. They nod and seem satisfied and leave me to sit and ponder if I’m a complete fraud who’s just making stuff up.
I’m not a mess, mind you. I’m just fessing up to not having it all together in spite of how cool I’m sure I appear to be.
I’m like the duck on the pond appearing to glide effortlessly along while below the surface paddling like hell.
Yet, I am pretty sure this describes you, too.
I’m comforted somewhat by the dawning realization that everyone is winging it with varying degrees of cluelessness, comedy, and sheer terror. Presidents and CEOs and celebrities (definitely celebrities) and parents and grandparents and supposedly wise sages… they all regularly struggle with what the heck to do and why in the world are we here anyway. Not everyone will acknowledge it, certainly not publicly. But I’m convinced that everyone who honestly searches themselves has to say, “Yes, I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
Most of us will fake it as best we can to appear cool and confident, and we sort of have to in order to keep from becoming existential roadkill and bringing chaos down all around us. We will cling to answers handed to us, to a system that seems to keep everything together and that seems to make some kind of sense of the utter mystery we’re all swimming in.
Your level of confidence may be higher than mine, but the only people who seem supremely and inerrantly confident are the ones you need to run away from as fast as you can. They’re kidding themselves more than anyone and have the greatest potential to screw up more than just their own lives.
I’m guessing this growing awareness of my uncertainty is a byproduct of living and learning. The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.
However, the quiet fears, big and small, we face each day are countered somewhat by the genuine and often awe inspiring wonder of living in such a grand mystery. Moments of sweetness and connection are even more meaningful as I accept just how heartbreakingly short and random I’m discovering life to be.
Being vulnerable is unsettling. And freeing. It’s being real and squarely facing the uncertainties that are part of the deal of getting to live as a human on this planet. But negotiating life honestly, knowing I am indeed winging it more often than not, is a bold way to open myself to what actually is as well as what could be.
Keep on winging it as you best you can, fellow travelers. I’m making this up as I go, too.
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