The Suspense of Life

Most of us love a good storm – that electric energy in the air, the feeling of not knowing how dramatic or uneventful the storm is going to be. If it’s a big enough storm, it has the power to upend our well intentioned plans, with sporting matches halted, half dried washing brought in, traffic chaos and the destructive force of mother nature. We surrender to the storm, doing our best to live with it for as long as it chooses to grace us with its presence.

Then it passes and things return to normal.

There is a sense of suspense that accompanies a good storm. There is a sense of not knowing where the next lightning strike might be, somewhere far away or too close for comfort. Is it going to be a deep distant rumble, or a shocking thunder clap that feels like it is right above our head? Is there going to be hail? We might contact family and friends to compare notes to find out who got the bigger hail!

If we feel safe enough, we might like to venture outdoors, feeling the powerful might of the storm wash over us and the exhilaration that comes with it. (Please, only if totally safe to do this). We feel it in every cell of our body and being. We feel totally present and in the moment.

I feel like the sense of suspense of a storm is a fitting analogy for the suspense of life. We like to think that we have total control over our life and possibly the lives of others. But how much control do we really have? John Lennon said it beautifully when he said ‘life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans’.

We make plans and we set goals. We like to feel like we are in control of things in our life. We feel happy when ‘things are as they are meant to be’. And yet. life may have other plans in store – an unexpected illness, an accident, unexpected good news.

Sometimes the suspense of life can challenge us.

As I write these words, I am facing a suspense challenge of my own. A few days out of venturing out on a much needed family holiday, Covid is rampant and people all around us are falling victim to the pandemic. If either one of my family were to become infected with Covid now, that would mean the cancellation of our much needed holiday. And so for the next week days we have no choice but to live with the suspense and anxiety of the uncertainty of our holiday. It is beyond our control. All we can do is continue to make the most of each day and each moment. The suspense will still be there. We can acknowledge, accept it and make peace without knowing the outcome.

For what is certain in life anyway?

Being an earth sign (Taurus), I crave structure, certainty and solidity in my life. I am a planner, I love mind-maps and lists. I have made many vision boards over the years and I have set goals. For a large part of my life, suspense and not knowing has made me nervous.

Yet the experience of over five decades around the sun, has shown that the uncertainty of life means that it has turned out in ways that I could never have imagined. In fact, I can honestly say that, my life continues to be imbued with magnificence beyond my wildest dreams. I’m certainly not saying that my life has been a fairytale, because not a single person on this planet is immune to the trials and tribulations of life. However, after five plus decades, I have finally learnt to trust in the process of life.

Life constantly surprises me. Life contains a sense of suspense. I have learnt that I can relax into the suspense and that sense of not knowing. Life finds a way to take care of things, if I let it do so. I can only control life to a certain extent, so I may as well get comfortable with the suspense of life.

I can wake up every morning with the thought of it being another ordinary day, or I can embrace the suspense of life, anticipating the wonder, magic and unexpected gifts in store. Even the not so welcome unexpected gifts can turn out to be blessings in disguise, in hindsight.

Quite often it’s the seemingly little things that can make a difference and add up to a life of magical moments – a smile from a passing stranger, a breathtaking sunset or a synchronicity. These are like the thunderclaps which take us by surprise as we never know when they are going to turn up. We cannot control how or when these magical moments turn up in our life, and this is how life keeps us in suspense.

By all means make plans, draw up lists and mind maps. Just remember to allow life to keep you in suspense and be open to the unexpected.

Invite in the wonder and expansiveness of life.