The past month has been full and diverse. That’s a good thing. It means that life is changing. But…. change is unnerving. After all, what do I do when my mindfully created plans collide with life’s synchronicity?
Certainly, I can fight the change – trying to fit life into my neatly crafted to-do list and deadlines. I could pretend that what I feel is a figment of my imagination. Or, I can flow between my plans and what’s showing up.
Putting it this way, choice of flow seems to be the obvious one. Until my emotions speak, not so softly “Wait – the unknown is scary…” Fortunately, a story appears to offer perspective.
This past month, I was invited to talk to a group of freshmen in an Atlanta Math, Science and Technology focused high school. Having a math degree, with a career in technology and entrepreneurship, my task was to intrigue the students about their possibilities.
The night before, I wondered what I could say that would somehow make my experience relevant. I vividly remembered how easily I got bored with “old” stories when I was their age. And if that weren’t a big enough deterrent, how might I explain “slide rulers” and living through the dark ages when phones were attached to walls.
The “unknown” conundrum loomed large. So, I did what I’ve learned to do: go to bed and trust that morning will bring a new perspective along with the new day.
Indeed it did. And, I got more than I asked for. Not only did I know what I would say, I saw my life in a new way.
When I was in high school, many of my friends knew what they wanted to do. I didn’t. No matter how hard I tried to figure it out, nothing came. Needless to say, this was frustrating, particularly to my dad, the engineer for whom life was to be planned.
But on this cool morning, many years later, I finally understood. I could not have known, then. When I was a freshman in high school, Purdue was creating a Computer Sciences department, one of the first in the U.S.
By the time I became a Purdue freshman, the Computer Sciences Department was still evolving. With a two-year-old undergraduate degreed program, new courses along with new ways of teaching were emerging.
Fortunately for me, life’s synchronicity was in charge. As a math honors student, I was invited to join an experimental Calculus class with 14 other students. Here, our “slide rulers” would become obsolete and computers would be our tool of choice and competence.
Little did I know then, that I had just entered a new world. A world where the unknown beckoned. Where we learned new languages and how to think differently. Here, where we worked with the professors to find answers to our questions.
The unknown. Yes, it presented a course to be completed, for a grade. And, it offered a lifetime adventure. My creative curiosity forever drawn into the magical spaces where people, science and technology would meet.
Now, on a cool, fall morning, a diverse group of high school freshman greeted me. I began. “How do you move into a future that hasn’t been created yet? One that has possibilities beyond your imagination?”
Change. The unplanned…unexpected. Has a way of unleashing our life. It asks us to be determined. Spontaneous. Curious. Sweeping us into the uncharted waters of the unknown.
Change. Our passage way into a life fully lived. It’s how we create careers and families. It’s how we discover our passion for travel, mountain climbing, yoga, building houses, writing blogs.
Change. Opening connection with others. Inviting us to marvel at our capacity to love, to be courageous and strong. Teaching wisdom in the ups and downs. And patiently waiting as we discover compassion for ourselves and others.
My story revealed what I could not see before. Change and the unknown are my companions. It is time, now, to honor their gifts in gratitude; and walk into the next step of tomorrow.
We are here essentially to risk ourselves in the world; we are a form of invitation to others and to otherness, we are meant to hazard ourselves for the right thing, for the right woman or the right man, for a son or a daughter, for the right work or for a gift given against all the odds, and to allow ourselves to be happy may be the greatest, most courageous act of all.
David Whyte, from Readers’ Circle Essay, “Longing”, ©2011 David Whyte
Thanks for reading,