Sunday, July 19, 2015

The fork... and beyond

Important parts of you change as time ticks ever onward. This is both a generalization and a simplistic view of human growth. I'm not just referring to the aging and decaying process that happens as our bodies and our minds begin to break down; but rather the psychological effects of exposure to new experiences throughout our lives.

We can allow these experiences to wash over us; leaving their mark on us... or we can immerse ourselves in those experiences. We can deconstruct those events and attempt to examine their significance to us and how those events in our lives may help us continue to grow.

Things I learned ten years ago...

With each new experience, we have an opportunity to take a step back and examine what has happened. 

Was this a positive experience? Negative? What gave me feelings one way or the other? What did it teach me? What did this event make me question about what I already knew? What effect might it have on what I currently (or used to) know to be 'true'?

There are things that can happen when you take that step back, though. And you have to be prepared for the unexpected (how profound, right?). You may find that you've suddenly realized something that upsets all of what you know. Or at least enough of it that you feel like your hold on pieces of your life are beginning to fall through your fingers.

You look at something carefully and you have this moment. It can be as clear and as astonishingly simple as finally realizing what it is you've been looking for... and suddenly your whole world comes to a halt and you're forced to question everything.

I believe these are the moments that define us. I take these moments very seriously. Those moments of impasse where I have a chance to take the terrifying leap into the unknown - in the direction of my epiphany... or I can duck my head and plow in the same direction I've been heading and trust my tenacity for endurance to keep me satiated.

With each new experience in your life, you have two questions before you:

Do you take the road you've been following and allow a fairly predictable future to unfold before you to a fairly predictable outcome?


Do you see the light on a different, fairly unpredictable path, but with more possibility for ongoing growth and fulfillment and take the leap?

Things I learned three years ago...

When I was a little less experienced, I would almost always choose the path of highest predictability. The least amount of unknown usually meant the fewest instances of unexpected stress (if you know me at all, you know this is my single biggest undoing in any given scenario). But a few decades, a boat load of experience, two moves, and a smattering of exes later... I have become pretty comfortable with the blind jump off the cliff.

I have come to trust what you could say are my instincts (which are, really, likely just a combination of critical thinking and analysis skills I have acquired and honed to such a fine point that making decisions feels seamless and obvious). Decisions to follow the unknown path have served me well so far and have always lead to a more rewarding life.

Things I'm only now realizing...

You may reach a point where decisions aren't as simple as one path or another. So what do you do in that case? What do you do when you catch a glimpse of the future and it isn't where you want to be headed? Additionally, what do you do if the alternative may give you more immediate gratification but has more unknowns than you're comfortable with?

Is it possible that blazing a whole different path is an option? It is possible that having seen both paths clearly that neither of them is suitable? Am I capable of stepping completely off both paths and going forward with nothing more than a guide that tells me where I don't want to be...?

I don't have the answers I want. Or the answers I feel that I need.

I may be headed toward what may be a blind leap into total unknown.