I once met a dada (a yogic monk, this one specifically belonging to the branch of yoga called Ananda Marga) who told us that the human being has six basic needs: certainty, uncertainty, recognition, love/connection, growth and contribution.
According to him, we should strive to live according to these basic needs in balance.
But many of us live way out of balance, either due to our own personal values or our life circumstances in the present moment. For example, a person who is out of balance and gives more importance to certainty is basically a control freak. Conversely, a person who shuns certainty and is only concerned with uncertainty would be someone who lives by the seat of their pants.
At the time of this little chat, I had clearly identified myself as someone who gave most importance to uncertainty and the last three, the most spiritually enriching. Maybe I wasn’t being too honest with myself, because in retrospect, I didn’t have to hold certainty in such high regard—having all my basic needs covered living as a full time volunteer. And I refused to admit to myself that my need for recognition was so strong because at that point in time, I wasn’t able to validate my own worth without the help of others.
Now that I am in transition from volunteer to working class citizen, I find myself in a frenzied dance with uncertainty. I used to think that spontaneity was what I was all about—waking up and doing with my time whatever I chose. Routine, rules and 9-5’s were for boring executives and soccer moms; I was proudly a nonconformist and nonconventional tree hugger with an amazing capacity for flexibility.
But now that I have to figure out where my next meal will come from, how I am going to send my son off to second grade, and how on earth will I pay the rent in February, uncertainty doesn’t seem like such a sweet deal.
Now all I want is the comfortable security of a monthly paycheck—if I must—in exchange for my vital life energy.
Luckily I have the support of my family so food is not an issue. Yet.
I applied to an old job I semi-enjoyed—over-the-phone interpreting from home. I had all the flexibility in the world with understanding superiors, and the job was mildly annoying at worst. Nothing worth going bald over. While I wait for them to contact me to conduct an oral exam to ensure my medical interpreting skills are up to scratch, I see the opportunity to relax, recharge, and rest from the hectic and emotionally charged past year.
But as the days go by, I start to feel anxious, despite my daily meditation practice. I feel heart palpitations as I breathe into my poses. I can’t shake the jitters that have ripped me from the present moment—all the way to rent due date while playing ball with my son.
I whip out a pen and paper and start crunching numbers. If I can start work by such date, I’ll be able to afford my rent in February. If I don’t—I don’t even allow the thought to enter my mind. All I see are images of a maxed-out credit card and it’s enough to make my blood run cold.
I start praying feverishly to the Universe. I call up my girlfriends and cry to them over the phone. I feel like wringing my son’s neck every time he asks me for something that costs money.
Then I sit outside and contemplate the breathtaking nature that surrounds me—imposing mountains covered in coffee farms and banana trees, colorful sunsets and peach-colored mist that blankets it all. I sit and I listen. Dusk has always held a special magic for me. I’ve come to think that God can speak to me at sunset, and if I get quiet and listen, maybe I can hear.
And then I remember that the Universe has never failed to support me in the past, even at my boldest, even at my peak of living by the seat of my pants. I remember the gratitude I owe to all of my loved ones. I receive everything I need at the exact moment I need it. In this moment, I remember a phrase that my spiritual master is noted for.
The force that guides the stars guides me too.
And I trust.
Why do we forget this precisely when we should remember it the most? Why do we allow our minds to consume us with worry, when we know intuitively that we don’t have control over anything, anyway?
One of life’s great paradoxes, because I know that once I achieve the certainty of a monthly paycheck, I will crave—once again—the freedom, spontaneity and uncertainty of this present moment.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Melissa Horton/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons