Much of living is just connecting ideas, knitting a patchwork of thoughts into something coherent so that we can navigate the day-to-day. Recently, I’ve been thinking about the fruitful tension between agnostic acceptance and active hope.
The idea of agnostic acceptance is best explored through an old fable. Go ahead and read it. It’ll just take a minute; I’ll wait.
Powerful stuff, right? The farmer carved out a space for tranquility: he decides what the world’s comings and goings mean and he decided that he doesn’t know what they mean just yet; he’ll reserve his opinion for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. In doing so, he created a bulwark against the changing tides.
The tranquility on offer in the throes of agnostic acceptance is a powerful tool to wield in a culture that constantly signals us to want more and to want better. From that space that we create by saying "I don't know yet what this means" we can view the promises of happiness if we just get the thing we are chasing with some skepticism.
At the same time, I want to be relentlessly open to the changing tide — and I want to be part of that change. It’s in my DNA to inquire into the nature of things and ask how we might do better. It’s a constant impulse, at times a noble and naive one, that has driven me to where I am today. I cannot simply say “We shall see” for I fear that in doing so I might lose the edge that pushes me to take part.
Some semblance of a resolution might lie in a benedictine phrase that I have kept close for many years: Always we begin again. Those words host the ideas of hopeful gratitude and fierce openness. Today, we begin again. Always, we begin again. There is an infinite possibility in now if you have opened yourself to it.
So I can work my way to the tranquility of the farmer, with his careful agnostic acceptance yet still unfurl my awareness in the present to what can be and take what action I can. We shall see yet always we begin again.