The Certainty of Uncertainty

Buddhist teacher, author, nun and mother Pema Chodron says, “The truth is that we cannot avoid uncertainty. This not-knowing is part of the adventure. It is also what makes us afraid.” 

On a Pacific level, this ‘certainty of uncertainty’ is what was undoubtedly facing our Miss Pacific Island Pageant contestants and their supporters over this past week, before the winner was announced last night.

No matter how beautiful, well rehearsed and intelligent each of the contestants was, until the final decision was announced at Tuana‘imato, no one knew for sure who would be declared the winner.

For those who enjoy pageants and competitions of any description, the certainty of uncertainty is what creates the excitement, a certain amount of fear, anticipation and ultimately, either delight or despair. 

Take the recent presidential elections in America; many people spoke of the certainty of Hillary Clinton winning and yet, who would have thought?

It is the same with sport.

The most talented and best prepared team or athlete can be beaten on the day despite looking like a sure thing.

It’s why people get hooked on sport because in every tournament, encounter or match, while you can make an educated or informed guess, it is never a certainty that you will be right.

Think of our own Manu Samoa 7s and 15s.

It would be a brave sports fan who could predict with any certainty their success or otherwise in their coming encounters against the world’s best. Some of that we can put down to experience but in reality, we simply don’t know.

In fact if everything was a foregone conclusion, it would make for a very dull life because despite the best laid plans in the world, the future is uncertain, it doesn’t exist, it is yet to happen.

Think back to each of Lupesolia’i Joseph Parker’s fights on his pathway to his upcoming title fight at the Vector Arena in Auckland.

There were fights ranging from the relatively easy which he cruised through to others that had heart-stopping moments before he ultimately triumphed.

It is also why sports psychologists and other performance-related coaches promote positive thinking to help empower their clients.

Other experts suggest uncertainty, positive uncertainty should be embraced and can lead to bigger and better ideas, plans and performances. 

Theorist H. B. Gelatt advises, “When the future is uncertain, then there are many possibilities. 

“A major feature of positive uncertainty is that it promotes open-mindedness. Uncertainty is the prerequisite and the product of an open mind.”

He asks us to “think of times in the past when you were uncertain and discovered new possibilities and to think of times in the future when uncertainty might be a good strategy.”

So to those experts who correctly predicted who would win the Miss Pacific Islands pageant or the Manu Samoa 7’s game against England in Dubai, congratulations.

Just remember, you could have equally been so wrong.

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