Here’s To a Life Of Insecurity, Uncertainty, Failure

Yesterday was a wonderful day. Not only did I have two separate and delicious get-togethers with good friends, I felt no sadness, no tears, no angst when I was alone again.

I seem to have turned a corner — maybe not with the sadness, because sadness seems to be a constant underlying theme of my life even when I am otherwise happy, but with the angst. At the moment, I feel good. Unconflicted. Accepting. Though to be honest, I don’t know what it is I am accepting. Maybe that uncertainty is an acceptable way of life — because, truly, any certainty we feel is a matter of hope over reality. That the unusual doesn’t usually happen helps fuel the fantasy of certainty, but anything can happen to any of us at any time.

A friend sent me the following text: So here’s to a life of insecurity, uncertainty, failure, and most of all adventure. And oh, that sounds so strangely wonderful! We tend to think that security, certainty, and success are all things to be sought after, but what if they aren’t? What if security lies in uncertainty and failure? What if certainty lies in failure and insecurity? What if success lies in failure, uncertainty, and insecurity?

I don’t know what succarouselcess is since it remains elusive. I don’t know what failure is, either, though I have suffered too much of it. Still, success sometimes brings unrealistic expectations, forces us into a role we aren’t comfortable with, or steals time from loved ones, and aren’t those all failures? Failure often brings knowledge of a sort, and isn’t truth a success?

Truth has always excited me, though the keys to life’s mysteries — life’s truths — seem out of reach. Each truth learned hints at greater truths, and so we truth seekers are always seeking. (Always failing, too, because truth can never be grasped.)

Although I miss my soul mate with all my mind and heart, when I am brutally honest with myself, I know we went as far as we could together in our search for truth. For us to have remained together would have stifled that glow of barely sensed knowledge, would have kept us tethered to ordinariness. But by his death, he took me to the ends of my reach, showed me emotions I didn’t know existed, let me feel the bonds of eternity and the bounds of the earth.

I sense something more for me in this life, sense . . . whatever it is that lies beyond the cone of my vision. I haven’t a clue how to move beyond my own grasp, though I sense that a life of security, certainty and success is not the way to do it. All of those are ties that bind, and since I am free and boundless for the first time in my life, I’m not about to tie myself in knots again, at least until life and age do it for me.

Sometimes I sense laughter deep within the universe. Sometimes I sense the playfulness that holds everything together.

Once a very long time ago when I was immeasurably young, my classmates were trying to read each other’s minds. They sat there, brows furrowed in concentration. My then best friend was one of the would-be-mind readers. I was bored with the whole thing, and played my own game of trying to break their concentration by shouting out gleefully anything I could think of. The gameplayers were so annoyed at me they blocked me out, so no one realized that I unwittingly shouted out the right answers whenever my friend was the one sending the thoughts.

So playfulness, laughter, uncertainty, insecurity — these are things to be gleefully and joyfully embraced. Oddly, I don’t know how to play, to be playful. Never did. I was a serious child, and except for moments here and there, I’m a serious adult. But seriousness will never get me what I want. Truth is a shy creature that can’t be hunted, only enticed with promises of play.

I’m being foolishly poetic, perhaps, but maybe, just maybe, I’m on to something. If nothing else, maybe I’ll learn to be playful.

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

We Are All Successful

Someone told me today that my pessimism is keeping me from being a success. Hmm. Not a success? Pessimistic? That’s not how I see myself.

Maybe I do come across as pessimistic, but I am only trying to tell my truth, which is all anyone can do. And admittedly, I am not a success by worldly standards. I haven’t made a lot of money working at a corporate job or playing the stock market. Haven’t made much money at all, if I’m being honest. I have earned no title, won no real awards, never been feted or lionized. No more than a handful of people would show up at my funeral.

Although I would have liked to have sold a huge number of books and have a large enough bank account to indulge myself, for the most part, I’ve never wanted material things. Things weigh me down, make me feel earthbound and claustrophobic. Things demand attention and care, and I’d rather devote my time to nothings. Love, freedom, and truth for example. These aren’t “nothing”, of course, but they are “no thing” — they have no materiality. And in these no things, I am a success.

I loved deeply, and even when that love didn’t bring me fairy-tale happiness, I remained true to my love. Although I was not successful in helping my life mate/soul mate get what he wanted in life, perhaps in the end, I gave him what he needed: someone to be there to witness his life, someone to make sure he was comfortable during his final days, someone to take care of his after death tasks. Maybe he even needed someone to grieve for him, to feel his absence, to acknowledge his importance in the world, and that I gave him. Like me, he wasn’t much of a success in worldly things, but his life had so much weight, when he left the world, my world tilted on its axis.

Freedom is something I have always valued. Freedom, and free time. Freedom from the drudgery of a demanding career so I have time to do the things I want. Freedom from things so I have time for no things. I always had time to indulge my various passions, such as reading. For many years, I read every moment I could, often reading far into the night, until finally, during the past year, I had a surfeit of reading. Now I am looking for new passions, though I have not yet found any. (Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say they have not yet found me.)

I am not yet a success in truth, but then no one is. Truth is something we learn throughout our life, getting deeper and deeper into the truth of truth. I am still on my quest for truth, and someday, maybe, I will know the truth of life, of love, of truth itself.

What someone thinks of me, what of their own values they bestow on me (pessimism seem to be a value judgment more than hard truth), has not mattered in a long time, and that, too, makes me a success.

In many respects, my life has not yet begun. Since the death of my life mate/soul mate, and the concurrent death of our shared existence, I was born into a new life. The whole world is mine to do with as I wish, a blank slate, unwritten with failure, ready for success in whatever shape it comes.

Come to think of it, isn’t success also a value judgment? Not everyone’s dreams come true, not everyone achieves worldly success, but everyone is a success at something, even if it is only managing to get through another day.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.