Geek3, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Living With Uncertainty

There are no perspectives without any doubt.

5 min readAug 7, 2021


Every day I live with uncertainty. Sometimes it's greater, sometimes it's less, but I’m never completely certain about anything. I’ve been thinking about uncertainty for a long time now. I think I really started to think about uncertainty in life when I read, somewhere, that the laws of physics are about probabilities, not certainties. From that point on, it became apparent to me that nothing in this world is truly certain.

I was born blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. As I was writing an article the other day, I realized that I have always been living with a heightened sense of uncertainty as a result of my deficits in sensory perception. We all have these deficits, but mine have always seemed particularly acute because everyone else I know has two good working eyes and ears.

I was at the eye doctor yesterday and as I was reading the chart, my kids and my wife giggled as I got some of the letters wrong. They had no trouble reading them, I did. Maybe that was nervous laughter in the sense of, “Hey, this guy is almost blind and he’s leading the family. He drives the car. He attends to our safety. What happens if that one good eye fails him?” That’s uncertainty.

The uncertainty that I feel in life tends to lead to a greater sense of caution. As a general rule, I make a point of underestimating my skills. When I approach the offramp in my car on the freeway, I assume that my skills are not that good, so I slow down. I take my time. I have little interest in exploring the limits of tire traction as I go around the bend. I don’t change lanes on the way down unless I know it’s completely clear for me to do so. I acknowledge the skidmarks on the concrete barriers. I take note of dented and mangled guardrails. I learn from the mistakes of others.

I’m reminded of a series of short films called The Hire featuring Clive Owen as a professional driver for hire, and BMW cars. They were really fun to watch, so I got the DVD with every episode. On the DVD, there were extras, and one of the segments in the extras showed us just how much planning goes into a stunt with cars. They also showed what happens when calculations are incorrect. That’s uncertainty, even for trained professionals with the street blocked off. I think…