Being Content in Confusion

In therapy we often talk about goals. And, as the professional in the room, I am the one who is supposed to lead that conversation, although I rarely do. When we enter therapy we look at what is distressing us in our lives and hope that we will find clarity and an answer that we know in our hearts will cure all that ails us. That becomes the goal. Often, however, as we go through the process of learning about ourselves, we recognize that the fantasy of clarity is not what brings us peace. Rather it is  the recognition that not being clear about everything is also a place of safety. The degree to which we can tolerate that is the degree of peace we can have our lives.

Recently I’ve realized that there is a good chance that within the next ten years I will have lived over half my life, if I haven’t already. When I was beginning my adult life I assumed that by this point I would have things figured out. I looked forward to this time of my life being one of security and clarity. I was right, but only half way. I assumed that I would have security because of clarity. That’s not how it happened.

As I have gotten older I have found that, like my hair, my comfort zone is increasingly grey. I look at the things I believed so strongly in my late teens and early 20s, and I chuckle at my sense of conviction. I wonder if I was really sure, or if I was just convincing myself I was.

I have two close friends who have known me since I was a little kid. I have gotten to the point in my life where I can say that I have been friends with these guys for 30 years. I recently sent them a video shot of me on Purim, standing uncomfortably while a drunk fellow was passionately preaching in my ear. It reminded me of times I had done that to friends, and I apologized to the two of them. Of course they used this opportunity to rib me a little. The truth is that these two have watched me sure of so many things, only to come back to the middle on a lot of them. I am grateful for friends like them.

I once was talking with another friend of mine about the paths we take in life. Her concern was how to know she was on the right path. What if she chooses the wrong path and then it is too late? I answered her with the following thought.

Confusion is also a path.

True maturity is not found in believing you have all the answers, but, in the idea that you never will. Beware of those who say they have all the answers and demand that life is lived their way. Out of fear they have chosen a path that doesn’t exist, and they, and all that follow, will be hopelessly lost.

About the Author
Binyomin Yudin is a psychotherapist in private practice in Cincinnati, Ohio Born in Harrisburg, PA, and raised in Baltimore MD, he attended several yeshivos after high school eventually landing at Ner Israel in Baltimore until his marriage in 2002. He spent several years learning at kollelim in Israel, and after a stint in the rabbinate in St Louis, settled in Cincinnati, OH, with his family.