The Other Side of Reason – Leaning into uncertainty

Involved in a bus accident that took the lives of six people, David Gibson has been battling through PTSD for over three years. In an effort to better understand himself and to communicate with others, he turned to writing. His first book was The Other Side of Reason: A Journal on PTSD, available now via This column continues that text.

[The road]
It seems I walk a lonely road where I am deep inside, yet you are never far away.
I’m heading out to see the light.  I’m heading out to see this world.
My vision is out of sight to the answers I need to find.  I just might never know.
What’s our future going to be? All the light is fading, it’s like the night is craving for the silence of an empty road
– slowly I am moving while I keep on dreaming of a place I haven’t been before.
Maybe I will choose again a life to begin.
The winding road will be of little consequence when I reach past the night and feel the light.
And the sun’s warm glow wrapped around me.


Health educator Brandon Trean, once said “It is how we embrace the uncertainty in our lives that leads to great transformation of our souls” Today however, I find myself at a crossroads because what I thought were my goals and focus four years ago have now shifted, and I’m being compelled to lean into uncertainty, and simply accept the unknown.

I’m not good at that.  But I do know since the accident, who David was is not who David is.  My challenge in all of this is to remember I’m the same person I was before the crash. This result doesn’t change my actual life; it just changes what I think about my life

The thing is I want so much to feel sure about things and about myself. I want to be able to tell people ‘don’t worry – it’s going to be ok’. And you know what? I realize that it wouldn’t likely be doing anyone a favour if I continued to say this. But I still want to be able to believe this is true.

I acknowledge my desire to live a meaningful life and to have a chance to re-invent my life if I ever go back to doing something other than living with the impacts of PTSD.  I want to have more adventures. I want to be with my loved ones and be a part of their lives unfolding. I want to rekindle that passion for life. The intensity of these desires and my longing for life sometimes feels like an empty gas tank expressing itself. You know that chugging sound grinding to an abrupt stop.  So how do I maintain this passion for life and yet let go of what I can’t control?

What happened to that person I was … and should I return to him? Should I point my compass toward that lighthouse beacon because there is comfort in familiarity, even past familiarity? I knew that dream well, but today it seems it was only just that, a dream.  That great unknown.  It’s like playing “one of these things is not like the others.” Some people thrive on uncertainty, but for me it has triggered a brief existential crisis.  Did I simply end up on the wrong bus at the wrong time? Ah yes the ‘fate’ card I can play in the Hasbro game of life.  So why I am here and feeling adrift? What is this god awful uncertainty and why is it plaguing me?

I look at people surrounding me with their passionate ideas and focus and I suddenly feel hesitant even timid, but far worse – vulnerable—I once liked being like them, I knew how to deal with that type of single-minded focus. But this? Being adrift without a sail or compass.

This feeling sucks!

I have been familiar with feeling on the brink of the unknown for almost four years now. Just as I feel myself letting go of my sense of certainty, I also have to turn to face the vast and humbling magnitude of my own ignorance.  Even in our reluctance to venture beyond what is familiar and known it is worth wondering, what is there that is ever truly certain?

What if we were at the end of the day able to live with sufficient realism and dignity to know we are right with that knife-edge of uncertainty? We don’t know how it’s going to come out; there are no guarantees. Wait. There are no guarantees anyway.

Until next time.