• Mahsa Keikha

Embracing Uncertainty: Decisive Moments During Crisis

This weekend marks the anniversary of a life-altering event for me. It was seven years ago that I arrived in Canada. When I fled Iran with my daughter back in 2013, it was at a moment’s notice. My life was in imminent danger. I ran so quickly out of my house that I forgot to put on shoes; my daughter had only her school bag that we’d hastily shoved some pajamas in.

It was as if some black hole, some void, had opened in front of me. My choice—if I wanted to live—was to leap into it. To move with and through the void.

The last while, as COVID-19 has swept across the Earth, many are feeling like we humans have collectively been pushed into a void. Life, as we have known it, has been upended. Everything feels uncertain, chaotic.

My advice in these uncertain times: Lean into it. Embrace it, if you can. Be curious and open and seek positive opportunity.

Yes, I know it may sound like I’m repeating some of the catchphrases being bandied about these days. But I’m also speaking from experience.

When I left Iran, it meant leaving behind my family, my home, my possessions—so many things I had clung to, aspects that I thought defined my identity and my life. Getting on a plane to Vancouver was a split-second decision made by listening to my intuition and seizing an opportunity. There was no time for forethought or for hesitation. I simply had to trust. When I arrived, I had only a small amount of money in my pocket. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have a home, and I didn’t know what to do.

And yes, it was difficult, and yes, there were times I was afraid. And there were times all I could do was wait.

At any moment along that path, I could have collapsed myself, become paralyzed by my fear and frozen in inaction. Instead, I decided to become soft and adaptable, to move beyond my history, my past identity and beliefs, and allow for positive expansion. Additionally, I let myself be open to being helped—and, in return, to helping others—and discovered transformative love and generosity in community. Leaving my old life and embracing a new one was exactly what I had to do.

Yes, it can feel hard when everything is in disarray. Who wants to be forced into the void? As creatures of habit, we humans don’t much like chaos and uncertainty—we become fixated on that which is in front of us, believing it is the only reality. We cling to old ways of being even when they’re not working. Sometimes it takes being forced into the void to imagine and create something new.

I truly believe that beauty can emerge from this time of uncertainty and chaos, that we can learn a new way of being on and with this world, and with each other. I know there are others out there who feel the same– like the authors of an article on Singularity Hub that lists possible positive benefits that could emerge from the pandemic.

One point in the article that I found immediately interesting is the statement that the word “crisis” stems from the word “choice.” Investigating further, I learned that the word originally derives from the Greek krisis, meaning “decision,” and krinein, meaning “decide.” Also, in the 15th century, crisis was the medical Latin term used to describe “the decisive point in the progress of a disease.” That’s certainly an appropriate definition for these times.

So then, this a decisive point. Let’s release ourselves from our old ways. Become soft and adaptable. Know that order will emerge from the chaos, as it always does. We can make it positive for all.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the good that could come from this passage through the void. Let’s start a conversation…

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