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Terri Simon

Are you sure?

“Are you sure?” The question rocked me a bit.

“Are you sure?” The question came again before I had the time to process it the first time. It was a split-second question from a person who wanted a split-second answer. I’m not very good at split-second stuff. I like the luxury of time, which I’ve come to learn is truly a luxury.

Was I sure? What I wanted to shout was, “Of course, I’m not sure! I’m never sure of anything.”

But instead, I looked my questioner in the eye, and I said what they expected me to say: “Am I sure? Absolutely.” The person who was asking me the question appeared content with my answer. Perhaps, it was because I said “Absolutely” with conviction. That’s the key. Whether you actually are sure or not, if you say you’re sure with enough confidence, it might appear believable.

For a week now, I’ve thought about that brief interaction. And what I’ve come to realize and wonder is if any of us are ever sure about anything. OK. We can say we’re sure the sun will set today, and we’re equally as sure it will rise tomorrow. But do we really know for sure?

The same could be said for a lot of things in our lives — those things that always happen — the things we could set our clocks by — the things we often take for granted. We live in a world where we thrive on what we know for sure, but I contend we aren’t absolutely sure of anything.

When I need some advice on how to handle a situation, I inevitably look back down the road and think about how my grandfather would have handled this question. No doubt, he would have remained silent until he was sure. It might have taken him a few minutes, a few hours, even a few days, but he would have never told you he was sure about anything, unless he really was.

See, I think many of us live our lives waiting and looking and searching for that sure thing. We want that job that will surely offer us everything for which we’ve yearned. We wait for a mate who will surely be everything for which we’ve dreamed. We avoid, ignore, bypass, evade and do a host of other things, waiting for that sure thing to come up and tap us on the shoulder ... and it never does.

Oh there will be some who say, “I am absolutely sure about this or that,” but are they really? Do you mean to tell me they have no inkling of doubt, no uncertainty whatsoever? It’s a brave soul who can truthfully utter those words and not have any misgivings or skepticism.

So if you buy into what I’m suggesting — that nothing is a sure thing and we’re never really absolutely sure about anything — then you get to the point I’m at. But why are we so caught up in being so sure? I mean, the world is not going to crumble if we’re wrong. In the scope of things, it doesn’t really matter if anybody is sure. Yes, we like to be right, and we like those who we speak with and work with to also be accurate, but in the scope of things, if someone wasn’t as sure as they thought they were ... well, it’s not the end of the world.

I don’t know if that makes sense or not. All I know is that we’re a world that gets so caught up in being right.

“Are you sure?”

What I should have said was, “Heck no, I’m not sure, but it’s the best I have right now. I might be a little bit wrong; or I might be half wrong and half right; or I might be totally wrong. But either way, I’m as sure as I’m going to be at this moment.”

We’re a world that likes to point fingers; fingers that say, “Aha! You were wrong! You thought you were sure. You thought you were right. But you weren’t. You were wrong!”

Like you, I try very hard not to be wrong. In fact, I go to great lengths to be accurate, to be right. But will I be perfect? No. Will I attempt to be? Whew … I don’t think I have that much energy.

Am I sure of that? ...


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