In life, there are so many things outside of our control that having a familiar routine, job, place of residence and experiences seems comforting, even ideal in many ways. But I have found that a willingness to embrace the unknown and to experience life outside the boundaries of one’s own comfort zone is often the “secret” to a richly fulfilling life of divine purpose and destiny. It is only in throwing caution to the wind and stepping out on faith that many people can truly begin to understand their own inner strength and resilience. Honestly, how can we ever really discover who we are while nestled safely in the bosom of the “temples of our familiar”? I challenge every one of us to embrace a new beginning, in some substantive form or fashion – as an intentional means to start living a life on your divine-right path. This is a state of fearlessly living and in many ways, therein lies the secret of life: to have NO fear.
I will share just a portion of my own personal experience with starting over (again and again-smile), because there’s so much to learn in sharing and in hearing another’s personal testimony. From an academic perspective, in order to truly Educate to Liberate and/or teach a lesson of any worth you must also be willing to learn. You must possess a growth mindset and resist the inclination to project a fixed ideology on any given topic. How else can one learn anything without first being receptive to new knowledge, innovation and experiences outside of one’s norm? In my teens, 20s and 30s new, exciting experiences were almost always welcomed or initiated by my own wondrous, and adventurous approach to life. This is representative of an age-appropriate and healthy degree of embracing new beginnings and reflects both the natural naïveté and growth mindset characteristic of the young. Now in my 40s, it’s hard to admit but I have been much more reluctant to start over, at least by my own permission and without external prompting – as such, I forced the universe to respond accordingly and have had my fill of being forced to embrace new beginnings. All I can say is, trust me . . . Choosing your own ventures outside the “temple of your familiar” is far preferable to having the choice imposed upon you by the universe of life experiences! But, I digress, here’s my testimony:
In my teens and early 20s, I was fiercely proud of who I am and so enamored with the concept of living a life on purpose that I read voraciously, wore only African garb, legally changed my name to reflect my increasing knowledge-of-self and prior to meeting my soon-to-be husband I practiced my own, unique brand of sacred , all-inclusive spirituality. I even embraced a physically pure lifestyle of abstinence and a natural diet, health and beauty regimen. In many ways I reaped the full benefits of self-realization. Don’t get me wrong, while in college (my beloved HBCU), I admittedly partied, experimented with drinking and my vow of abstinence was tested repeatedly by brilliant and fine Black men (Lord have mercy); but to my credit, and owing to the strength of my inner resolve-I stayed true to my core beliefs and flourished as an on campus newspaper editor, disc jockey and Black nationalist speaker/leader among my peers.
Later, I was in my first year of my teaching career (then as a high school substitute teacher), when I met my husband and after several years of getting to know one another, dating and essentially being an inseparable pair, we married and began to cultivate a place of our own to call home. Despite my oneness with another person whom I felt destined to spend the rest of my life with, I was still uniquely fearless in every way and supported by my husband in all of my fearless pursuits. Namely, while working as a young teacher, I traveled to West Africa w/ a male colleague and with a large group of a dozen middle school students in tow. On this trip we endeavored to embrace African culture anew and explore life in our native culture for nearly two weeks, (while on a sanctioned school pilgrimage trip). During these years I traveled frequently, spoke in and around the Detroit nationalist community and embraced new experiences with regularity and self-determination. Little did I know, but the adventures of my young adulthood were soon to be replaced with a sobering dose of reality.
Soon after the long-anticipated birth of my beloved, only child, my marriage was irreparably rendered uninhabitable and despite my admitted heartbreak, fear and status as an inexperienced young mother I embraced the unknown and – started over again. In retrospect, my willingness to use the end of my young marriage as a learning experience ant to refuse to wallow in the depths of depression and despair (in spite of the validity of these emotions), opened my mind, eyes and entire life to unique blessings and new experiences that I had never even considered. After continuing to teach, and to single-handedly raise my daughter in the city, state which was unquestionably the “temple of my familiar”, I courageously embraced an unforeseen opportunity to teach, live and pursue an advanced degree in (of all places), my dream destination of New York! Although time doesn’t permit me the chance to truly unpack the unpredictable beauty in living in Harlem; then for many years living in Brooklyn (Baby, baby!! Ugh), all while nurturing my daughter into the strong, powerful and beautiful young woman that she is. I can honestly say that life in NYC is regarded fondly by both me and my daughter as the time of our lives and without this willingness to embrace the unknown, my life would undoubtedly be much less fulfilled and well lived.
Suffice it to say that now, in my 40s, life progresses in such a way that advanced degrees, job security and the predictability of hard-earned, bi-weekly paychecks (upon advancing in one’s career) – renders it near impossible to take any level of risks and to ultimately embrace the unknown. It’s almost expected of us, that a major component of responsible adulthood is a willingness to work, pay bills and to otherwise stay the course in pursuit of a rather elusive goal of having made it. Meanwhile, life is happening all around you/us and being experienced or thoroughly enjoyed by those willing to take a risk to embrace their extraordinary and divinely ordained path. Thus, even when you’re afraid to venture outside the norm, you are inextricably urged into uncomfortable, uncharted circumstances all along the way. In my observation, for those who have always lived life on purpose – God/the universe may impose a decidedly different path for you than your myopic, middle-aged vision will allow you to fathom . . . As such, you just might want to pay closer attention to the guideposts along the way to avoid being forced into an embrace of the unknown.
As for me, the newness and unexpected returns of embarking upon a new business venture, coupled with the loss of old, outdated relationships and all that was (seemingly) familiar is scary, yet unfolding nonetheless. And as I am consciously reminded and made aware through divine favor, countless special blessings and ever so subtle signs; new experiences are NOT punishment – no matter how they may initially appear (divorce, job loss, physical illness/injury/health challenges, pain of loss, etc.). On the contrary, in life and particularly on the pathways of love, light and divine intervention – there are innumerable new beginnings. I am ready and willing to continue to embrace these experiences, not because I’m being forced to, but because I welcome each new beginning. For therein lies the secret of life: To. Have. No. Fear. Asé.