Acceptance of risk and uncertainty is both an ancient cultural capacity and a very necessary current one for our collective uncertain futures. Considering ecological and social histories through a lens that accentuates adaptation and capacity rather than pathology reveals different landscapes of hope for human societies and all the other beings with whom we share the planet. The continuity of older, more environmentally and socially benign relationships between people, animals and landscapes hold potential for responding to unfolding uncertainty. Many predictions of Earth futures are deeply negative. Having the capacity to move beyond the limitations of rationality may be key to embracing positive uncertainty. Learning from cultures where change is normalized and acknowledged might help us move beyond ideas of grief and loss for old ways of life, and an obsession with control, to a cultural disposition towards attentiveness, care and respect.