Archives for September 2015

The Unknown

My dear ones, this is a post about the unknown. From your ripe age of 6, the world of the unknown is simply immense for you. You live in the space of ‘why’, ‘how come’, and ‘what if.’ These are wonderful questions, even if sometimes you take them to a level that we call the “zebra game.” That’s when you ask your questions to a deeper and deeper level to where it gets absurd, and at that point a zebra comes into the answer somehow, as a gentle way of letting you know that the question is not going to bear much fruit beyond where it is right now.


And that can be a hard thing for you at this age… you are still BUILDING your understanding of the world around you, and much of the background of obvious to mom and I is simply not yet present for you unless you build it through continued explorations of where the boundaries of knowing can be found, right there with the zebra.

A while back, we started watching “Cosmos” with Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s an amazing remake of the show I remember watching when I was a few years older than you are now, back when it was hosted by Carl Sagan. It has amazing graphics and storytelling, but still much of it is over your head. So we watch it with the remote in hand, and you ask questions that I get to simplify or put into a context that you understand. For me, it is such an amazing joy to interact with you as you learn and understand. It’s a joy just knowing that for most of the questions you ask, there IS an answer somewhere, even if I don’t know what it is.

Anna, you will often ask me how I know so much. I playfully tell you that it’s all stuff that I learned in “Umi School.” You already know that there’s no such thing, so I tell you it comes from continuing the path of learning that you are on today, and taking it forward through many years and practice. Indeed, my dear ones, the love of learning is a cherished value for me, and it is my sincere hope to instill that within you. Also, to ensure that nothing in your formal education is able to beat that out of you!

In my own learning and practices as a leadership coach, I embrace the unknown. Unless and until one is willing and able to step into the unknown, then one will forever be destined to repeat and recombine elements of the known. New ventures, new ideas, new possibilities… these all lie in the domain of the unknown.  It’s even part of Star Trek:  “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

In this very moment, however, as I write to you through these pages, I am in the middle of an unknown as large as any I have gone through, and I am terrified. About 6 months back at this point, I had a rapid onset, intense headache that was followed by tinnitus (I hear a ringing sound in my ears). Since that time, a number of other symptoms have come and gone, to the point that it was finally time to have somebody look into my brain with super-magnets (MRI) to see what they could find.

But all I have right now is the black and white pictures from my brain – like lots and lots of zebras – and no understanding of what any of it really means just yet. I have a series of symptoms that I’ll not bore you with here in this post, save to share that I am deeply immersed into the unknown at the moment, and if there were a zebra I could catch hold of, I would ride it out of here.

In this moment, I am doing my noble best to embrace the unknown as a good thing – something that holds equal parts possibility as dread, and I choose to focus on the former. But the latter refuses to be silent – and so the two battle it out in my skull like the light and dark wolves I told you about not long ago. My dear ones, you are far too young to worry yourself with matters like this, and I take comfort in knowing it will be many years before you even read these words for yourself. But for now? For now, you are both the food, life, energy, spirit and joy that I feed to my white wolf.