“Maybe, maybe not” is a phrase I’ve carried with me since first reading Robert Fulghum’s Maybe Maybe Not: (Second Thoughts from a Secret Life). If memory serves, Fulghum focuses on the certainty that anything can happen. In maybe (and maybe not as well), lies the wonder of certainty.
Some 20 years later, I still do not disagree. After all, existence is ever-evolving, never given to any absolute except change. For me, certainty lies in change.
Maybe this is hair-splitting, maybe not.
It is only recently I realized that “maybe, maybe not” is my catchphrase for equanimity. I do not know when that happened but it did. There is an evenness of mind in the seesaw quality of “maybe, maybe not”—at least for me–an ongoing balancing act in meeting life’s experiences.
As Pema Chodron says, “cultivating equanimity is a work in progress.” Indeed, it is. Yet, I find a kind of certainty in creating an environment of equanimity. If anything is certain, it is change; perhaps that is the permanence in impermanence.
Maybe impermanence is the heart of Fulghum’s belief in wonder for no thing ever stays and anything can happen. Maybe, maybe not.
Cultivating equanimity means we respond rather than react to the emotional and physical storms that make up the drama of our lives. If we meet the storms with an evenness of mind, we learn the nature of our pain.
To open one’s self to the fury of any storm—to sit in its eye–is to accept the promise of impermanence, the certainty of change. In acceptance comes the realization that one’s life changes forever. No storm is without its pain yet every storm has its eye.
I am reminded of the Buddha’s words, “I teach nothing but suffering and the end of suffering.” For me, equanimity provides the evenness of mind to accept that pain will always be part of the life experience. But I do not have to suffer. The choice is mine.
We suffer when we are becalmed, wrapped up in our pain, wearing it as our identity. In aversion, we also suffer, trying to outrun or outmaneuver the storm— we may actually do it more than once — regardless, we will meet it again, may be different circumstances and perhaps when least expected.
In equanimity, we brave the storm, accepting it will forever change us. We sit in its eye, safe in knowing the storm state always passes, and in its aftermath, we rise once again, buoyed by the energy of existence.
With every storm, there are lands lost to us, yes, but if we sail with the current—an evenness of mind— there are so many new shores to explore, so many experiences yet to come. There is always another sea to sail.
And all the while there is the wonder of maybe, maybe not, a seesaw balancing act, certain to change.