Are doubt and faith on a continuum? I came across this quote from Life of Pi, by Yann Martel today: “To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation”. Wow.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question things, or doubt what are presented as facts. It makes sense to apply common sense. When I heard this quote though, it was the idea of making doubt the foundation of how to look at the world that really grabbed me, and how such a perspective renders you immobile, which makes for a very narrow, fearful life.
That thought led me to faith. It was hard to find a quote that didn’t center of religion of some kind. That’s not what I was looking for, not because I don’t believe in a life force that animates the universe. I do. Rather I was looking for a thought that would expand my heart, rather than contracting it the way doubt can. “None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have faith.” from Brida, by Paulo Coelho
For me, having faith requires courage, courage to let things happen in their own time, courage to make mistakes. As I’ve said before, I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’ve found the faith to challenge the fearful, doubting voices that tell me “you can’t do that, you don’t know what you’re doing”. I acknowledge the doubts, and try new things anyway — like leading a phone bank, publishing Flowers for a Pandemic, or having an art show. These things made me feel vulnerable, but guess what? I am able to do them, savor, and enjoy them. I get to learn new things, and that’s really exciting.
I don’t think I’ll ever be free of doubts. That’s okay — they’re necessary and human. What I have now is a lifetime worth of experience of working through fear and doubt to get to the joy. So yes, faith and doubt are on a continuum, and I’m well over on the faith side of that line. Taking this in, letting it settle into my heart, is a great way to start today.