Saturday, August 24, 2013

Patchy Ground Fog

                           Patchy Ground Fog      
Yesterday morning I took a last summer ride past Adirondack lakes, streams and meadows, which were all obscured by some patchy ground fog.  And today I am back in Las Vegas getting set to be a visiting professor at UNLV.  That fog was tricky – I could almost see through it, but not clearly enough to be certain what was really on the other side.  And that was how I felt making this trip from all that I've known before into the unknowns of academia.

I guess it’s always like that when you start something new – new house, new pets, new friends, new colleagues, new relationships, or a new job.  While I sort of know what’s coming, I can’t yet see everything clearly enough to feel competent or confident: academia is certainly different from my corporate past, and students are similar but different from children and employees.   And while I think I know what’s ahead, I can’t see things clearly enough to entirely alleviate the natural anxiety associated with trying or starting something new. It really is like peering through the fog.

So even though I’d driven those same roads many times and knew where they ultimately ended up, I was still uncertain about what was ahead through that fog. Similarly, I can see the connections between all I’ve done in the past and what I might teach in the classroom, but not having been at this school or on this faculty before I am uncertain what this will really be like. Isn’t that always the case when trying something new?  And isn’t something new, by its very nature, somewhat obscured (like looking through a fog)?

The answer is yes – but that should never stop us from taking on new challenges and opportunities, and striking out into the unknown.  Because if we never try something new we’ll never know how far we can really go; if we never walk into the fog, we’ll never know what’s really out there.  Those are the challenges, and blessings, of life.  I am thrilled, excited, and a little nervous about what it will all look or be like when the patchy ground fog of this transition burns off in the rays of tomorrow’s sun.

My message this week is about having the courage to try new things:

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Andre Gide

Discover anything new lately? Most of us spend our days and nights reliving and repeating the same lessons we learned long ago, but if we’re lucky something new and exciting sometimes comes along.  When that happens, we have a chance to learn new lessons and practice new techniques.  You have to be open to these new lessons, and not afraid to admit what you don’t know: the only chance you’ll ever have to create and discover new opportunities is when you leave the known behind and strike out in search of the unknown.   So learn something new today, and then use that new-found knowledge to do something great!

Stay well!

1 comment:

  1. Love the article and the quote especially. In my corporate job, some folks get caught in that comfort zone. I just switched jobs and it's a new world although it's the same company. I love the challenge and the feeling of "not seeing the shore." It's invigorating and really goes to show that even though the company is familiar, a certain level of anxiety is A-OK!!