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Uncertainty

  • The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.

  • Certainty always produces questions, uncertainty statements. It is a balancing law of nature.

    • Djuna Barnes,
    • "A Visit to the Favored Haunt of the I.W.W.'s," in New York Press ()
  • An image is a stop the mind makes between uncertainties.

  • ... everything is ambiguous. It's exciting, in a way, if you can tolerate ambiguity. I can't, but I'm taking a course where it's taught, in the hope of acquiring the skill. It's called Modern Living, and you get no credit.

  • I've always noticed that nobody can be single-minded who isn't narrow-minded; and I think it likely that people who aren't so cocksure what they want to do with themselves, hesitate because they have a great deal more to deal with. A nature rich in fine and complex possibilities takes more time to dispose of itself, but when it does, the world's beauty is the gainer.

  • I haven't a clue as to how my story will end. But that's all right. When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, you don't conclude that the road has vanished. And how else could we discover the stars?

  • ... we can't be creative if we refuse to be confused. Change always starts with confusion; cherished interpretations must dissolve to make way for what's new. Great ideas and inventions miraculously appear in the space of not knowing.

  • I wanted a perfect ending ... Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. ... my life ... is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity ...

  • ... when you can't see straight ahead, it's because you're about to turn a corner.

  • Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what's next or how. The moment you know how you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.

    • Agnes de Mille,
    • in Carol Easton, No Intermissions: The Life of Agnes de Mille ()
  • Truth walks toward us on the path of our questions. As soon as you think you have the answer, you have closed the path and may miss vital new information. Wait awhile in the stillness, and do not rush to conclusions, no matter how uncomfortable the unknowing.

  • Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

    • Ernestine Ulmer,
    • in John Cook and Leslie Ann Gibson, eds., The Book of Positive Quotations ()
  • When nothing is sure, everything is possible.

  • I feel like a traveler on the banks of the Amazon who is suddenly approached by a small unknown animal, and is, if charmed and interested, yet not sure how the little animal will turn out.

  • I am not wise. Not knowing, and learning to be comfortable with not knowing, is a great discovery.

  • One certainty we all accept is the condition of being uncertain and insecure.

    • Doris Lessing,
    • title essay (1957), in Paul Schlueter, ed., A Small Personal Voice ()
  • Sometimes the right thing feels all wrong until it is over and done with.

  • ... uncertainty is the inner circle of hell.

  • There is no Paradise, no place of true completion, that does not include within its walls the unknown.

  • Indecision is the key to flexibility.

  • If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.

  • Uncertainty is the prerequisite to gaining knowledge and frequently the result as well.

  • ... assuredly of all earthly conditions uncertainty is the most unblest ...

    • Fanny Kemble,
    • 1838, in Fanny Kemble Wister, ed., Fanny: The American Kemble ()
  • ... if the way ahead is not clear, time is often the best editor of one's intentions.

  • There are many changes in the weather of a day.

  • Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.

  • I have learned to prize holy ignorance more highly than religious certainty and to seek companions who have arrived at the same place. We are a motley crew, distinguished not only by our inability to explain ourselves to those who are more certain of their beliefs than we are but in many cases by our distance from the centers of our faith communities as well.

  • Uncertainty is the necessary companion of all explorers.