Uncertainty

During the/this pandemic, the theme I’m thinking about the most is uncertainty. And perhaps specifically our comfort or lack of comfort to uncertainty.

I can’t say I’m particularly good at it historically. I like knowing the answer. I dislike knowing someone is withholding information. I don’t like surprises.

But as I looked at my life during this time as I discovered the basics are covered. Family is safe for the time being. I have a job. I can access food. The pandemic itself isn’t all-consuming to me.

I’m not particularly hung up on knowing when this will end. Trying to attach a timeline to something of this scale, and when I have very little influence on illuminating solutions–has put me into a rather neutral position. The pace of science can only go so fast, and taking classes back in college–there’s an uncertainty that comes with research. It’s just takes an unknown factor of time to figure out which variables and vectors actually matter, and which ones don’t.

And the research being the foundation of the whole enterprise, you can feel that root uncertainty permeate every layer above. Decision makers depend on experts. So if experts are figuring it out, their advice will shift rapidly. Which means decisions made will appear wrong or right or fuzzy accordingly. Things said confidently will appear foolish, and yet people yearn for confident answers.

That’s a particular level of comfort that’s hard to salve.

We’re getting used to ever faster pace of doing things, and yet to acknowledge certain processes remain slow. And we feel the incongruence of 24-hour news cycle trying to report on a scientific method that works on a monthly, yearly, or even longer time scale. So maybe it’s not about comfort, but more recognizing different sources of tension within a system, and reacting accordingly.