Embracing Uncertainty

As a permaculture designer, I am often asked to bring order to ideas, and come up with plans designed to keep chaos at bay. By implementing the principles of permaculture design, we can bring a certain order to systems and make sure that they meet the central ethics and sore ideals of the movement.

But uncertainty still exists. Much as we may wish to bring order to our world – there are always going to be things we cannot know, and changes we cannot foresee. The key is to recognise the known-knowns, and the known-unknowns, and recognise the existence of unknown unknowns. We need to acknowledge and embrace uncertainty as we work to create anti-fragile and resilient systems.

As I am sure many in the US are feeling today, uncertainty can be scary. But as in so many cases, the problem can be the solution. Acknowledging and embracing the uncertainty around us can help us focus in on what really needs to change. Uncertainty can be useful. It can break us out of a sense of complacency, shake up our daily lives, and make space for reform in all that we do.

Sometimes, we need to be a little uncomfortable in order to change. Stasis can be unhealthy. This is true in societal systems, and also in nature. Uncertainty can be the wildfire that allows new seeds to germinate, the storm that shakes up roots and fells mature trees, making space for new life to flourish, the pioneer species that forge the path for what will come.

Remember, in permaculture, we are aiming for stability not stasis. We embrace change. And sometimes, that means embracing uncertainty too. We may get results we want. We may be disappointed. But while we do not know the future, we can embrace the uncertainty and continue to use it to work towards common goals.

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