Have you ever noticed how many times we cling to the known rather than risk the adventure of the unknown… even when the known is not so good and the unknown full of alluring possibilities? Security is a major issue for most of us at some level.
I saw this in action recently as I watched an attempt to ‘go back’ to a place now long gone, by someone too afraid to move forward. I watched in sadness, knowing that the place that existed in memory was not the reality of that past, but an attempted escape from the present and the fears of an unknown future.
I recall a conversation with my boss very many years ago, when I was about to leave the security of her home and a decent salary for an itinerant musician. We sat in the garden just outside Paris, under the stars, talking for a long, long time over a bottle of Burgundy. It was a fabulous position with wonderful people, and in a place I loved. Possibly the first time in my adult life that I had been genuinely and consciously happy. Everything I could have wished for … and I was on the verge of giving it up and jumping into unknown territory.
There was no home to go to, and no real prospect of one at that time. Just a hotel room. He owned nothing but a guitar and a suitcase… I just had the suitcase, nothing more. There was no regular income, only the uncertain rewards of the music. There was, in fact, neither security nor stability in any material sense. Yet my boss put into words something I suppose I had always known but never understood. Material security didn’t matter much to me… emotional security did.
She was right, though I had never seen it that way. I have thought about that a lot over the years.
I had been raised in a family where there was always ‘enough’, though there was seldom more. There had been periods in my teens of truly abject poverty and near starvation, even in this civilised society… but they had been survived and had become just part of the journey. I knew from that experience how little one truly needs. Most of what we count as necessity is, in fact, luxury.
I had been a child then, secure in my mother’s love, and with that security could survive anything.
Years move on, perceptions change and so do we, learning from the experiences life offers, or clinging to them and stagnating. There is always that choice. I clung to emotional security for years, living in a fog of nebulous hope, even when I knew it was an illusion. Looking back at the blindness I suppose I was still seeking that security of the child who knows itself loved. In pursuit of that I forgot who I was and moulded myself to the desires of others. It is a sad way to be.
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Important to see this though…
We are not always good at seeing the obvious.
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