When you are Standing in the Middle of the Unknown

“When you are standing in the middle of the unknown, it may feel easier to look back than to look forward. Yet, forward is where the unknown lives. It is waiting for you.”

Jodi Hinkle, Seeker of the Unknown

There are two sides of the unknown. One side feels like standing on the brink of becoming so much more than I have ever been before; the other feels hard and crooked and mixed up…standing in a place where I was less than I knew I really was.

I found this thought when I rendezvoused with the words of May Sarton, the author of Kinds of Love, in a copy of her book at an antique store in New Smyrna Beach FL.

I love browsing in antique stores, looking at everything and nothing all at once. It is a place that invites my mind to quiet down and simply become curious as I browse row after row of what was once someone else’s treasures. Most of the visit feels neutral, easy-paced, and relaxed. Occasionally I see something that seems to stir my soul in a way that feels important. I’ve come to recognize it when I find myself suddenly catching my breath. Often my first glance will be from afar and I like to slowly move towards the piece; each detail coming into focus on its own; then seen as a whole from each perspective; step by step as I get closer and closer.

This time, it felt like I was expecting something, yet I had no idea what it was. A sense of anticipation you might say. One that almost made me feel impatient as I visited my typical place of serenity. As I rounded the corner, a bookshelf loomed ahead to my left. Although I love books, I rarely choose to ponder them in antique stores, yet, I felt compelled to stop and stare. After quickly deciding to give in to whatever game this was, I chose to believe I was meant to grab the book that was demanding my attention. I bought it without looking at the price and decided to accept there was some kind of message in it for me. Either I would find something bright and witty that would spark a new thought path in my mind…. One that would invite me onto a journey in some way…whether a realization, some new awareness or a new adventure and discovery, full of laughter and exhilaration…or perhaps one that would be like a jolt of lightning striking me with clarity about something important to me, something I’d been looking to understand for a while.

Weeks later, it still felt reassuring to have the book to look forward to at home as it sat on my table.

The first time I picked it back up again, I found an inscription that identified the owner and “Christmas 1970”. A quick peek at the publication date told me this book was a Christmas present…in 1970. I was 7 years old at the time…this person who received the book, they were older than me. I instantly understood this person had lived life in a way that they could see things that I couldn’t quite see yet, simply based on life experience.

I wondered about this woman. I wondered about her life. I thought of how different life was in 1970 and how much change she must have seen in her lifetime. I wondered what thoughts crossed her mind on the day she received the book…and what thoughts crossed mine…at a different time…in a different place…with different perspectives based on time and place. Both of us having a different view of the world. Just because.

And then, tonight, when I was in a bit of a restless place…one that sits in the middle of my way too tired and can’t sit still…that the book called me again. Gathering it up I tried to read random sections to see if it would bite me and then I found one page out of the entire book of 464 pages, folded over…as if it was marked with a purpose.

An older woman and a younger woman were talking, “It’s just so hard right now. I mean, I feel all crooked and mixed up and ..somehow LESS. When he first came, I felt so much MORE than I had ever been before, or imagined being.”

And yes, I immediately understand what she refers to. When I stand in the place of a new beginning, I feel giddy, excited, almost silly, as if I know something special is approaching and I can barely contain myself. Anticipating something I don’t yet know as I look forward to the experience, absent of fear or worry or doubt.

Yet when I stand in a place of an ending, my typical experience is one where I feel confused and conflicted as to what to do, how to move beyond what has become familiar, even if it may have passed its prime. Standing in my present, I can see now, this is holding onto something I can’t control. Something that fills me with the essence of failure in its ending.

What I have realized is that every time something comes to an end there is a choice…to look forward or to hold on and hang on to something that doesn’t work anymore. It seems we have been convinced in order to look forward we believe we must have a justifiable reason to let go and move on; and maybe this is why people become so angry and bitter, either with themselves or someone else, words or thoughts blaming them loudly for all that has gone “wrong”; eliminating the chance to walk away with love.

Yet, what if there was no “fault?” What if an ending could come after an appreciation for what it once was, the importance it once held, and gratitude for all that had been enjoyed and learned? What if one could let go with love and an acceptance of all it had been, honor it, respect it, and appreciate it, with the end result being a “thank you, good-by” instead of turning it into what begins to feel like torture?

Imagine the freedom of standing in such a place of such acceptance.

Imagine embracing the unknown that is looming ahead sparkling with surprise and delight, glistening with laughter and joy, gleaming with memories about to be made as the journey of life turns the next corner and continues on.

What if we have misunderstood beginnings and endings for a long time?

What if each moment is special in its own way, with no expectation of lasting forever?

What if there was no need for blame because all involved have moved forward into their next life experience?

What a different world it would be.

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