Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Thankful for the Unknown

"Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively, unless you can choose a challenge instead of a competence." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

An opinion article was published in the New York Times on Thanksgiving that gave thanks for the unknown. It struck me so profoundly because of all the surprise that entered my life this year. Through it all, I never stopped believing that something good would come from it all, that I'd be able to raise my head up eventually, shake off the sadness, and rejoin the human race as a more empathic, compassionate person. What I didn't expect is that I would emerge so brazenly fearless, that I would myself feeling more secure once everything extraneous was stripped away.

The great joy of living through something that we imagine we cannot live through is that we become unable to tolerate the act of wasting time. Tragedy makes our vision crystal clear; it helps us to see things with a sharp focus that we never had before. I sometimes wish that we could obtain this kind of clarity without having to live through tragedy. One of my business school professors talked to us about the sad necessity of the "burning platform" that inspires change. I wish my platform, my home, didn't have to literally catch fire, bringing a whole new meaning to the term "burning platform". It certainly did inspire me to change my life in profound and daring ways. I've been putting off a PhD program for over a year; I've been settling in my career and my relationships; material possessions were beginning to wield too much importance in my life. I needed a shake-up, a change, and I got it in spades. Now I'm studying for the GRE, pumping up my efforts on the relationships in my life that are truly valuable to me, and embracing a lifestyle that places far less value on material valuables.

The unknown is a scary, precious thing. The holidays are a great marker for us, a time of reflection to consider exactly what we want our lives to be about. This is an opportunity for us to be with friends and family and truly consider Eleanor Roosevelt's great question: are we challenging ourselves or resting on our competencies? Are we stepping up to meet the world or taking a comfortable seat and just watching the world go by? As we take a bit of time to relax this holiday season, it's my great hope that we will seriously re-consider our priorities and how we spend our time and effort so that we do as much good in 2010 as we possibly can. There is no time like the present to take up a new adventure.

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