Monday, February 20, 2012

Degrees Of Certainty

Benjamin Franklin famously said "Certainty? But in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”

I like to think there is more certainty than that in the world. I know that I can guarantee with a great degree of certainty, that Benjy’s bedroom floor will always be a mess, Marks and Spencer will always sell underwear and that my sister Anna will have at least one parcel delivered to my house from eBay each day of the four weeks before she arrives from London, for a flying visit.
I think certainty and predictability are very comforting. These two attributes help structure my family’s life, help us manage our expectations about others’ behaviors and give us a framework in which to function. Too much predictability however and life can seem rather boring (not sure I know how that feels) and too little leaves you unsteady on your proverbial feet.

When Jonny’s pain was escalating in mid -October 2011, the only thing that was 100% certain was that he could not continue indefinitely in that vein. All our regular routines evaporated except for the school run, which I held onto for dear life, for my own sanity and our youngest son Jacob’s sense of normality. Even when Jonny was in hospital almost an hour away from home, I came back late every night so that I could be there for the boys in the morning and take Jacob to school.

With all this uncertainty I became very focused on things no one could change and that I could rely on. I marveled at the colors (colours) of the autumn leaves, the size of the glassy moon mid-month and Macy’s having another sale. Even Benjy’s messy floor seemed comforting. (Benjy – please note: this was only reassuring for that brief period.)

Awake at 6.30am, I would soak up each sunrise that was emerging reliably every morning, but was never a carbon copy of the day before. One morning however the sunrise was so staggering that I went knocking on the boys’ bedroom doors to make sure they didn’t miss it. As you have probably guessed they were, predictably non-plussed at my excitement but grudgingly took a peak. In the certainty of the sunrise there was the implausibility of volcanic magnificence as you can see from the pictures below, taken outside our front door. This to me was the perfect balance of predictability and surprise: in this case volatile, breathtaking beauty.

Now that’s the kind of certainty I can live with.

Is there something in your life that is predictable,yet sometimes surprises you? I'd love to hear about it or see a photo and perhaps share them on this blog.

Please feel free to comment directly on the blog or email me at this address

Have a good week.



  1. Sunrise, sunset, dawn, dusk, exquisite fleeting shades of light, that flood me with a sense of wonder, awe, and gratitude. You don't always have to reach for the stars, you can just look to the sky.

    1. Yes and that certainty can give you a sense of calm in a stormy sea.

  2. It's the certainty of the mundane that gives us confidence to go for the challenges. Beautiful words Gilly. Rachel xx

  3. Yes Rachel I agree and the strength to face the challenges that we weren't expecting.
    Thanks for commenting.

  4. The moon. I always find so much comfort in ti

  5. ...and there have been some incredible views of the moon this month.Thanks Corey.