Uncertainty is as predictable as gravity.
Put your head around that for a second. Uncertainty, the idea that we really can't predict about a lot of things, in fact, we can maybe even argue most everything in life. Predictability about everything that we interact with in life is uncertain, highly uncertain, and that itself is predictable, and certain.
So what do we do with this insight? Well, let me give you a quick story. And then and then I want to help you apply this to relationships that are important to you in life.
Years ago, I had a dog named Dexter. He was a wonderful, wonderful black lab. Very loving, very calm, very friendly. And gosh, we had some great times together. I gave him a lot of attention, gave me a lot of love. He liked to crawl up into my lap. We had some great time together. And, one day, he had an accident, and he was gone.
Now, I didn't have Dexter for a very long period of time in life. The moments that I did have Dexter in my life were absolutely precious. And I can honestly and sadly reflect on the fact that I didn't appreciate all those moments, all those days, all those times, as much as I wish I would have.
You see we have a lot of people in our life that are exactly the same way. The fact is that life is uncertain, you don't know that the next chair that you sit down in is going to hold you up. You don't know for sure that the sun is going to come up tomorrow, after you go to sleep tonight. You don't know that the most important people in your life are still going to be around or around in the same way as they exist today… when we look forward, a day, a week, a month or a year in advance.
So this resistance to uncertainty, though, that we all have as human beings… you know, we don't like uncertainty, we like to put things in control and assume that things are going to be the way that we want them to. We want to assume that will sit out on the chair, it'll hold us up, we want to assume that the sun will come up tomorrow. But the fact is, we can't assume that because it may not happen. And nowhere in our lives is it more important for us to understand that and appreciate it then in relationships.
Our Resistance to Uncertainty Causes Underappreciation
So I'm going to challenge you, I may even offend you here slightly, but I'll bet that you're not appreciating the most important relationships in your life in a way that truly understands how uncertain those relationships really are. How fragile, in fact, they may or may very well be.
Here's what I suggest that you do. Now I've done this, on and off in my life. Make a list of the five most important people in your life right now… the people that that are precious to you, that make the biggest difference, that you look the most forward to being around or to having time with.
Make a list of the five most important people in your life, then jot down when the last time was that you had a meaningful, significant experience with each of those people. When did you actually spend time, drop in, make them the only person in your life at that particular time. Very likely, when you reflect on that you'll reflect on it as being one precious, and I don't know fun and gratifying and you know, whatever positive word you want to attach to it. I'm sure it was great. But the other thing you probably noticed is it was a long time ago. It was too long ago. For most of the most important people in your life.
The reason that we let the time go by is because we're trying to hang on to certainty or preserve some sense of control and so we operate on assumption. Let's stop assuming.
Relationships are Precious
So make a list of those five most important people that you have in your life, the people that you really look forward to spending time with, the people that you really, really cherish, the people that that when you look back on your relationship with them, you feel like that you've become a better person because they've been in your life. Then jot down when was the last time that you had a meaningful, significant mutually gratifying experience with them. And finally, tell them how much you appreciated that last time that you had that meaningful experience and plan with them the next time, as soon as possible that you're going to have another one of those experiences.
I recently did this exercise with my son. He's, of course one of the most significant people in my life. And he we had some time together. He's 25, and, you know, he’s starting to be at that age where he actually wants to sit still and listen to conversation with his dad. And so we were reflecting on some things that we've done in our in our life together in the past, just he and I. And then we made a mutual commitment that we were going to do something like those things, those experiences, every single year, no matter what.
And so we started to plan some things and throw out some options. It's gonna be fun to every single year come up with a new experience with my son that continues to shape our relationship, and most importantly, pauses, takes time in our relationship, to truly appreciate it, to truly embrace it. To recognize that there's a great deal of unfortunate uncertainty in the future of the relationship, and that now is the time to seize the relationship, seize the moment, create a mutually gratifying experience, as I said, and tuck it away as an yet another wonderful memory.
So uncertainty is as predictable and reliable as gravity on our planet. But you can embrace uncertainty as an opportunity to appreciate the people that you have in your life that are most important to you. So go out and talk to them and have fun with that.