The Box

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash 

Sometimes in life, we get stuck.

We do the same thing every day. We see the same people. We eat the same foods. We go to the same places. One day, we look up and realize we haven’t been venturing out of our box. Not in a long time. And we think, Maybe, just maybe, it’s time.

Admittedly, my box has gotten a bit smaller in these past two years. My home is my haven, and I have purposely tried to stay away from people and public events as much as possible. After all, I am with student-people every day, working shoulder to shoulder as we share a document or a computer screen.

But my box is small, and it’s getting too tight around the edges. I have to curl myself up and squish myself in to fit, and to be honest, the air has grown stuffy and stale. The scenery is bleak and unchanging. It’s time to stretch… up and out.

Outside my box, I know grand adventure awaits. Plans have been forming, evolving, coming together, to move beyond the confines of my box. My plans are full of light and energy. They will pose challenge and choice and adventure. But these plans are carefully laid and well-timed. These plans are mine and mine alone, though I might bring others along with me. And perhaps, others will bring me along—maybe willingly and maybe kicking and screaming. There is no doubt adventure awaits. I must simply muster the courage to step outside my box and break free.

The Path


Photo by David Talley on Unsplash

The path we travel is seldom straight. It twists and turns, skirting the edges of danger as we hold on tight. Our path takes detours around pothole-ridden streets and over stumbling blocks in order to set us in the direction we are headed. It redirects to new routes and sometimes presents more opportunities than we can handle. And others we might not want.

Nowhere is this meandering more evident than in our young adults. They spend their early years in state-mandated school until then they are suddenly expected to choose what comes next. The choices can be overwhelming.

There is no doubt there are many 18-year-olds who know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives. They step from high school graduation onto a fully paved path they’ve planned out for years, and they never waver. They go on to reach their lifelong goals in careers they chose when they were small children.

The vast majority of young people, however, have no idea what they want to do when they ‘grow up’ despite teetering on the line between childhood and adulthood. And a large portion of them are afraid to admit it. We put so much pressure on kids to know what they want to do that they feel they should know even though they don’t have enough experience to know. Or worse, we have steered them in the direction that we think they should go rather than letting them decide for themselves what is best and which path(s) they will travel. The pressure to choose a direction is so intense for kids this age.

What they don’t realize is that very few grownups know what they want to do next week, let alone 10 years from now. Adults—young and old—are expected to be solidly on a path with one career in view. But this is not often the way life works anymore.

Young people are much better off when they take the time they need to figure out their own best direction. Will they pursue a degree? Work? Go to trade school? Join the military? There’s nothing wrong with trying out some of the available options before they settle on one. The only way to figure out where you truly want to be is to recognize where you don’t want to be. Rather than push kids to make premature decisions about their futures and expect them to know exactly what they want when the emerge from high school, shouldn’t we be laying out their various options? Maybe we should be encouraging our children to experiment and try new things rather than taking the “safe” road and ending up somewhere they suddenly realize they don’t belong.

The path is not straight, and it is not easy. The bumps along the way…, the uncertainty in the choices that arise…, these are all part of the process. They help us to put things in the proper perspective. And for young people, this early part of the process sets them up for many of the obstacles they will face on their journey through life.

The path we travel is not straight, and the obstacles are many. But somehow, with a bit of trial and error, we all figure it out.

Ideas

Photo by Lauren Kay on Unsplash

I had an awesome idea for a blog post last night. It slipped into my semi-conscious mind just as I was sliding off to sleep. It was such a fantastic idea, and the pieces began to come together as my head remained firmly planted on the pillow. I thought about getting up to write down this great idea so I wouldn’t forget it. No, I told myself. This one is definitely too good to forget. As soon as you wake up, you will remember it. Write it down then. I even settled on some key words to help me remember, and with that, I drifted off to sleep.

Now, there is no doubt my years of experience with half-awake idea generation should indicate that this idea—like so many before—would be gone as soon as I slipped into sleep. That thought did occur to me as I resisted the urge to jot down a note or two—a word or a line—because I was tired. I wanted to sleep. And I was comfortable….

Of course, when I woke up this morning, the dust had settled in a heavy film over the ideas that flow so freely in that space between wake and sleep. Try as I might, I could not find my key words. I could not reconnect the dots to recall the awesome idea that flitted like a butterfly through my brain, alighting only for a second before migrating far from here.

Tonight, as I settle into my bed, I will be sure to have a notebook, pen, and flashlight in easy reach—like a butterfly net at the ready, just in case another idea floats through.

Welcome Winds

Photo by TOMOKO UJI on Unsplash

Here in the northeastern United States, winter has been cold and bleak, as winter so often is. The first day of spring was glorious—sunny and warm—but a few days in, Spring turned her back. Winter temperatures and a dusting of snow greeted us one morning, and the wind has continued its bitter assault, letting us know who’s boss.

These winds, they are the winds of change. On the horizon, the golden glow of the morning brightens the dark sky as a long, low rumble of thunder can be heard in the distance. Winter always turns to spring eventually. The spring peepers begin their evening song—slowly at first as one then two then dozens of frogs join in. The earth and air warm and the colors of blooming trees dot the mountains.

These are the winds of change, and they are blowing fierce and free. The change is welcome as the creative embers, buried deep for far too long, are glowing brighter. With a bit of TLC, the sparks will catch and spread their warm energy, bringing new places, new friends, and new opportunities.

Dark winter has lingered long enough, and spring will bring a needed respite. These winds—the winds of change—they are welcome here.