Characters In New Novel Face Life’s Uncertainties

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is.”
I have used that quote by John Allen Paulos in the prologue to my new book “Illusions of Certainty.” Most days we try to ignore the cloud of uncertainty that is always hanging over our life. If we did not do that we might sink into a paralyzing fear that some nasty surprise is always just around the corner in our life.
On the other hand, we need to realize that the certainty is just an illusion. That is the basis of the title I have chosen for my third novel. Dealing with uncertainty is one of the key themes for the characters “Illusion Of Certainty.”
I wrote in the prologue to “Illusion Of Certainty”:
“Most of us try to carefully monitor and control the events of our life. It has never seemed easier. Or so we think. We have so many electronic tools to coordinate our schedules, instantly stay in touch, book restaurant reservations, buy movie tickets, buy books, buy furniture, buy clothes, pay bills, do banking and stay on top of the pieces of our daily existence.
It makes us feel like we are in control. It makes us think we know what our children, co-workers, spouses and friends are doing. Then something happens that we do not expect.
There is a serious illness or a death. There is the loss of a job or an economic downturn. People and events behave in ways we did not expect. Suddenly we think there is uncertainty introduced into our well-ordered world.
But what we fail to recognize is that the uncertainty has been there all the time.
The characters in “Illusions of Certainty” cope with seemingly sudden turns of events. Ultimately some of them find out that life can offer “pleasant” surprises as well.
Another quote I use to introduce part three of “Illusions of Certainty” is by Paul Coelho, a successful Brazilian author. Coelho explains that uncertainty is part of the miracle of life. He says, “You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen” in our own life. It can sometimes be frightening and generally is unsettling—but it can also be the zest of life.
Here is a conversation between two characters in “Illusion of Certainty”:
“I think so too,” Alex said thoughtfully. “Being in these places that are so old and these cathedrals make you wonder what it is all about. Do we just live our time, love, lose, have happiness and have heartbreak and then it’s all over?”
Marc knew how seriously Alex took this topic and so he pondered his response briefly. “I also think we don’t know how many days we have left. There’s so much uncertainty. We need to spend our days cherishing what life offers us, and embracing the good in our lives. I think we should pursue happiness and not spend our days being fearful and fretting.”
Alex smiled warmly at Marc. “Life does have nice surprises and amid the uncertainty there are wonderful moments…unexpected moments.”
Uncertainty is also an issue in my second novel “Expiation.” How could my life have been different if I had made others choices?
Many people stop to ponder the “what ifs” in their life. “What if” I had made a different decision about the person I married? “What if” I had married my high school sweetheart? How different would my current life be if I had chosen another path when I was younger?
One overriding theme in my novel “Expiation” is how the outcome of our life could be so different based on decisions we make along the way. The main character in “Expiation” decides to leave his high school sweetheart in Seattle to pursue a newspaper career in San Francisco. The impact of making that decision put his former girlfriend’s life on a very different path and she has a life of loneliness and heartbreak. How much can person be responsible for another’s life? The decisions we make not only impact our life but others as well.
In “Expiation” I talk about a pebble cast into a pond. Once the pebble disturbs the calm surface of the pond, ripples can go all directions. The ripples cannot be controlled by the person who tossed the stone. See if you agree as you read “Expiation.”
Watch for the “Illusion of Certainty” coming this July.


About gregmessel

I've written six novels and am working on a seventh. My first three novels were "Expiation," "Sunbreaks" and "The Illusion of Certainty." I'm now working on a series of mysteries set in San Francisco in the 1950s. In 2008, I retired from corporate life and so I can spend more time writing. I spent over ten years in the newspaper business. I now live on Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, just north of downtown Seattle.
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