When it’s time to settle down in new circumstances and environments, there’s one surefire way to open doors and make things happen: ply your curiosity each and every day. Don’t make like a turtle and pull into your shell. Reach out and discover what the world has to offer. There’s more there than you know.
We are moving into the homestretch of this series on successfully navigating life’s transitions. Although we’ve covered a lot of ground, there’s still a little more to say, based not only on our reading of the literature but also on our recent experience of relocating our home and office to a new community in a new region of the United States.
We’ve written about how to prepare for the transition and how to go through its initial stages with effortless simplicity, style, and grace. Now it’s time to turn our attention to moving on. One cannot always be in transition. By definition, transition is a “passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.” At some point, in every transition, the opportunity presents itself to settle into new ways of being and doing.
The question is whether the new ways are any more satisfying and successful than the old ways. Although we some times luck out, stumbling into the opportunity of a lifetime, most of the time we have to make things happen through conscious choice and affirmative action. Fortunately, conscious choice and affirmative action are equal opportunity employers. We all have the same chance to make them work for us, regardless of the difficulties we may be up against.
Too many people go into shock over transitions, prompting them to hunker down in depression and self-protection. Unfortunately, those very real human responses to the at times overwhelming nature of what comes at us during major life transitions only make matters worse. When we find ourselves in changed circumstances and new environments, that’s when it’s time to ply our curiosity in every way shape and form. One never knows what will come from even the most innocent of initiatives.
Last week, for example, I went to two Rotary meetings, a neighborhood block party, a running club, countless vendors, and a worship service. Business cards were exchanged, relationships were established, and opportunities began to present themselves that would never have happened had I not plied my curiosity into action.
One can be curious over just about anything. That’s one of the great things about human nature. Although we can certainly succumb to isolationism and xenophobia • the fear of strangers • we can also exercise judgment in different directions. We can embrace expansionism and xenophilia • the love of strangers • out of our confidence that in so doing we may align ourselves positively with the mystery of life’s unfolding.
Here’s one small example from the past week. Early one morning I went for a run on a new route to a local park. At the end of the road, there were several trails each of which I followed just to find out where they went. I was curious. At the end of one trail there was a small amphitheater with a fire circle, looking out with a glorious view over Chesapeake Bay. At the end of another trail, there was a dock which I sat on for a while to watch the blue herons fishing with such incredible patience. They stood perfectly still until just the right moment.
That scene, which I would have never experienced without taking the road less traveled, later became the image I worked with in my morning affirmations. I came to identify with the blue heron as an image of myself in the process of becoming. I am definitely not good at staying still. It’s all too easy to rush and demand my way from one task to the next. But that is not the way of life. The blue heron showed me a different way, which I employed as I sat on hold in various telephone queues throughout the week. Instead of getting impatient with the frequent, interminable delays I thought of myself as the blue heron, waiting for a fish to appear.
Here’s another example. The neighborhood block party, which has happened every year during June for more than 30 years, could easily have been skipped. After all, we’re still in boxes with computers on card tables. How could we take the time for softball and socializing? It would have been easy to bury ourselves in our own pressures and projects.
But that is not the way of life. Those pressures and projects will be there yesterday, today, and tomorrow. They’re not going anywhere. The neighborhood block party was a once-a-year opportunity around which we plied our curiosity from 7:00 AM (07:00) to 10:00 PM (22:00). The people we met are neighbors who will no doubt become colleagues, clients, and associates. Let’s just say we ran out of business cards and have already started making connections that will benefit LifeTrek coaching.
That’s how it works when we ply our curiosity rather than hide in our shell. Things happen when we get ourselves out of bed in the morning and make ourselves available. Whether it’s a bird or a business prospect, we can benefit greatly from paying attention to what they have to offer. The more interested we are in the manifold beauty and bounty of life, the more it will come back to us a hundredfold. That’s what some have called the law of attraction. It’s really quite simple. Ply your curiosity and experience the blessing.
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