Exploring the Deep

Passionately pursuing life, faith and adventure…


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Change

An attitude is an interesting thing. Most people will describe a person by how he or she looks. Long or short hair? Blue or brown eyes? Tall or short? It’s the attitude or personality that usually comes last in the description. But isn’t that really the most important aspect of a person? You can get past any deficiencies in how someone looks, but you’re stuck with a personality.

I’ve always been a person with a “sunny” disposition – as a friend recently put it – but I’ve recently felt as though my attitude has taken a slightly different direction. Now don’t worry, I’m not suddenly becoming a pessimist or doomsayer. I’m not even saying my attitude has changed. I’ve just felt that recently I’ve been viewing life through less than rosy glasses. As far as I can tell there is nothing that caused this change. I haven’t recently gone through a major breakup with a guy or had a loved one die or been in a car accident or had a near-death experience. Life has been pretty normal.

The only thing I can even think to attribute the change to are the personalities of people around me every day. They threaten and taunt me to let my outlook on life falter and take a pessimistic spin. It’s not like they are consciously pursuing this, but it’s through small actions, words and attitudes that they’re encouraging me to claim a negative take on life.

It’s the daily barrage of seemingly inconsequential attitudes that is slowly wearing me down. They are the elements of a person rooted so deeply that they don’t even realize that’s who they are. Sometimes spoken with words, many times spoken only with actions and body language I hear: “That’s not the way we’ve always done things.” “I don’t think we can do that.” “I don’t know how to do that and I don’t want to learn how to do it either.” “Why do you think like that?” “Are you sure that’s the right decision to make?” The “Hmmph…” and “Hmmm…” and disapproving looks with the eyes and head shaking and arms crossed and tuning out of a conversation then saying with that voice, “Ok,” and walking away.

I’ve never wanted to be that person. I’m afraid of becoming her. I’m actually annoyed by her – heels in the ground, chin tucked into her chest, fists ready to fight for the status quo, even when the path of change is clearly littered with an abundance of benefits. I’m afraid of that attitude rubbing off on me. Yet I feel as though I’m slowly acquiring those traits.

Why is it now I feel like I’m becoming that person? Is my thinking valid? Am I actually afraid of my attitude changing or have I simply become afraid of change?

Perhaps I’m dissatisfied with my life and unsure of what the future holds, so I’m assuming my attitude has changed and in turn I’m blaming it on those around me. I find myself wondering if it’s just the stage of life that I’m in: single, unsure what to “do” for the rest of my life and unable to clearly discern where the path is leading. Aren’t those things you’re supposed to deal with in high school and college, or at least the few years out of college? Yet, here I am: 29 and full of questions. Certainly I know my life is not terrible or going to be a colossal waste if I don’t have all the answers right now. I know that God has a plan for my life and He loves me. But so many times it’s hard to wrap my mind around that. Seriously. I’m just a girl who doesn’t always know up from down. A girl who feels alive when she’s stretched (forced or willingly) beyond what she’s ever known.

I don’t want to be the one resisting change. The one who is afraid that change will change her and instead keeps her heels dug deeply into the ground, hoping to stay in place, only to realize life around her has moved and she’s actually taken steps backward and is now pressed against a wall and being forced to move forward. That is the antithesis of who I am and who I’ve ever wanted to be.

I want to be a person who embraces change and throws herself headlong into new things without being afraid of losing what is comfortable and known. The joy of discovery, personal growth and possible failure is so much greater than the pain of never tapping into that available potential. I want to keep getting better as a person, as a Christian, and growing deeper in who I am and what I can handle. I want to embrace the future, with all of its unknown elements and scary moments. I want to be the girl who has a job, but doesn’t let it define her. I want to be spontaneous and curious and generous. I want to see the world, be a part of culture and experience things I don’t even know exist yet.

Change is not bad. It is not scary. I am determined that my attitude will not be downgraded or reshaped negatively by change or by other’s perception of it. Change is good. It is beneficial and exciting and challenging. And challenging is a test I will gladly face.

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Adventure

There’s something about packing up my belongings to move that stirs in me a desire to hit the road, stop at little hole-in-the-wall restaurants and make conversation with folks at gas stations. I’m sure my parents could explain it — or at least give a few stories of how I’ve been like this since I was a kid — but I’m not sure I even care to have a reason for why I’m the way I am. I have a healthy sense of adventure and it’s what makes life so thrilling and full. (I have hypothesis, though, that it’s my dad’s happy-go-lucky attitude paired with my mom’s practicality that I’ve inherited that keep me floating yet grounded.)

As I write tonight, I’m surrounded by boxes (full, empty and broken down), packing paper, tape, recycling, a giveaway bag and a complete mess. Despite — or perhaps because of — it all my mind keeps wandering to the thought that I need to get out of town. I don’t necessarily need to be moving across the country again, but that’s the norm that’s been drilled into my head when I move.

This current move is local, just down the street, actually. By my past moving standards this one is dinky. I want to start piling things in my car and drive it up the hill to the new place, not pile it in the corner of the living room and wait for the moving truck to arrive on Monday evening to drive it up the hill. I’m impatient. Packing is reserved for moving long distances.

So I battle my mind screaming at me to get out of town, strike out on the road, have an adventure! And reason calmly saying that this move is an adventure. It’s the first time I’ll be moving into a real apartment complex. There will be neighbors to become friends with, a fitness center to conquer, a pool to relax near and management to avoid (just kidding!).

It’s a perspective shift that I’m trying to come to grips with so that I don’t find myself constantly bouncing around the country my entire life. Adventure is in the big and little things. It’s not just moving to a new city and testing yourself to see how well you adapt to starting over.

Adventure is meeting a friend for late-night coffee and conversation, then sitting outside the shop an hour after its closed and you’re both cold and tired. It’s hiking alone on a trail with signs at the start warning you about the wildlife. (I will NOT do that again.) It’s spending a day downtown by yourself exploring a new part of the city. It’s hanging out with a new friend and her kids, giving her a chance to be “real” and yourself permission to be authentic. It’s offering your free time for a non-profit that will stretch you beyond what you think you can handle.

Every day is an adventure if I decide to live it that way.