Friday, January 12, 2007

More Thoughts "By the Side of the Road"

I thought I should revisit part of Wednesday's post and elaborate on this tension between being adventurous and needing a haven of security.

I grew up in a family and culture that mostly shunned exploration. But extenuating circumstances dictated that we move about every 3-5 years. So on the one hand I am accustomed to a change of scenery at fairly regular intervals but I also have not had a home in the traditional sense. My parents always assumed the air of being refugees. Every time we had to move, their explanation was always along the lines that there wasn't any room for us in this place so we had to move on and try again. It wasn't until clearing out their files after their deaths that we found the unspoken reasons for all the job changes and frequent moves.

I have two strong remembered emotions about moving; I was going to an exciting new place, and I would be a stranger there. New places, the idea of new places, has always excited me. Maybe I'm a closet romantic and haven't acknowledged it yet. My parents, particularly mom, did not like new places, new people or new experiences. I think that though she could be very social that her underlying personality type was introvert. But another factor that influenced her approach to anything new or unknown was her childhood indoctrination that her family was from the wrong side of the tracks; that it was her lot to be an observer of life looking in from the outside and she was putting on airs to venture where she didn't belong.

An off-shoot of my parent's discomfort with new people, places and experiences was that they discouraged me from going places and doing things outside their sphere. One result of that was that I often had marginal agreement for venturing into the unknown and they declined to provide any support or advice for succeeding. Fortunately I did have some outside encouragement for stretching my fledgling wings but often these supporters were unaware that my parents were not following through in pre-event preparation and I would "show up" completely clueless. Such "hands-off" parenting also left me terribly vulnerable to being taken advantage of in various ways.

So I read Foss's verses and I have conflicting feelings. From my house at the side of the road I can see the expressions of those traveling that road--some to new places and some returning to familiar places--and the mixture of excitement tinged with trepidation I recognize as those heading into the new. And for just a moment there is comfort that I can share a bit of the excitement without getting messy and uprooted, because traveling will get you both. But that comfort is quickly replaced with longing to see what they will see around the bend that blocks my view. If only I could take my bubble and be bouyed along to see, but not get soiled by, what lies ahead.

And that is sort of where I am today. I want to find out what I can do and if it has any value, but that means giving up--or at least risking--what I know how to do and pays today. Maybe there is just not enough of Chris Gardner's spirit in me to break free.

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