Uncertainty

I’ve been thinking a lot about uncertainty, how every minute of our lives is an uncertain minute no matter how we have planned or projected.  Uncertainty is the residue of the constant change and disruption in our world.  Every new business lives on a knife-edge of uncertainty.  Even great businesses have an uncertain future. They just don’t know.  No one knows.

In quantum theory, the uncertainty principle implies that it is impossible to simultaneously measure the present position while also determining the future motion of a particle.  Can quantum theory be a basis for understanding market dynamics today?  Since we can never measure where we are while predicting where we’ll be, the goal is the quest.

Inevitably this leads me to think about Michael Frayn’s brilliant play Copenhagen.  Three actors: Nils Bohr, his wife Margrethe, Werner Heisenberg.  The plays ends like this:

Margrethe: And sooner of later there will come a time when all our children are laid to rest, and all our children’s children.
Bohr: When no more decisions, great or small, are ever made again. When there’s no more uncertainty, because there’s no more knowledge.
Margrethe: And when all our eyes are closed, when even the ghosts have gone, what will be left of our beloved world? Our ruined and dishonored and beloved world?
Heisenberg: But in the meanwhile, in this most precious meanwhile, there it is. The trees in Faelled Park. Gammertingen and Biberach and Mindelheim. Our children and our children’s children. Preserved, just possibly, by that one short moment in Copenhagen. By some event that will never quite be located or defined. By that final core of uncertainty at the heart of things.

That final core of uncertainty at the heart of things.  Isn’t that what life feels like?  How dull would it be if life were certain?  A little certainty might be comfortable.  We all want to hold on to what is certain in our lives, but in the end that life-line is frayed and torn and we are cast in the waves again and again.

I’m lucky to be a swimmer.

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