On a vacation, several years ago, a group of us hustled from one tourist location to another, bypassing many ordinary, though potentially interesting sites along the way. When I slowed to take in things catching my eyes someone said, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!” As rude as I thought it sounded at the time, it triggered a life changing reaction.
I learn much about life through open-minded exploration. Along the path, I encounter numerous crossroads with byways offering opportunities to venture in a new direction. Several factors influence my conscious and unconscious decisions. Choices made depend upon my current state of mind, how far I can see into the new path, whether it looks appealing to my values, curiosity, or beliefs, but also external influences that can push, pull or encourage me to stay where I am.
As a young, naïve, and ‘finding myself’ adult, I tended to jump onto bandwagons that excited me or were popular. Perhaps I was drawn in by warm cookies of solidarity, raucous drinking songs boasting right-think, and charismatic leaders piping their wisdom into the indiscriminate receptors of my mind. I jostled along dusty roads to somewhere, or sometimes nowhere, with fine ground hoopla and the sweet mist of belonging swathing my skin and permeating my senses. It felt empowering, enlightening, and grown-up to take up causes and ideas I had known little about before. I did not mind a few jolting ruts in the road, or the fact that a wheel flew off the cart, from time to time, because someone else was there to explain it and fix my mindset. I ignored the fact of being caked in the dirt kicked up by the rest of the mindless followers, careening in a cart I held no control over, continually coasting past exits to other opinions and options, without consideration of their potential validity.
Over time, my mind matured and began to see leaders on the path were imperfect humans, like me. Some points of view, theories, wisdoms, and stories eventually revealed flawed, too stagnant, or all together false. I found that while each person I followed offered some level valuable input on life’s path, some of this insight was not always complete, or was limited to their own perspective. Riding in a box on wheels became less appealing, unfulfilling and I started thinking – which produced a slow growing crop of ‘but what’s’ in my brain. I stuck my head above the box edge and realized other truths exist. Some truths are concrete, while others evolve as more information is discovered or understood. At times, truth is a matter of perspective and perception, influenced by individual ideologies and personal experiences. Because of this realization, I became an inquirer, a truth seeker and a dot connector.
To truly learn about things that interested me in the world, I needed to get out of the way of my inquisitive mind, as well as the herd of rampaging opinions and biases around me and strike out on a path of discovery. In a sense, jumping off the proverbial bandwagon was an internal crossroad and the best decision I ever made in expanding my range of knowledge, perspectives and life experiences. I enjoy the listening, sharing and even debating different points of view. I do not always agree with others but appreciate hearing their perspectives, ideas and experiences. Through respectful communication we often learn something from each other that we may not have considered before. I guess it just proves that each life is an evolutionary experience when we get out of the way and approach it with an open mind.
Enjoy your discoveries!