Engage in the Unknown

A postcard by one of my favorite author/illustrators, Nick Bantock.

Life is about uncertainties. I was 17 years old when I decided to spend my life working with young people. Having absolutely no idea how to do that, I went about constructing a career by accident. Shoot, I didn’t even know what a career was! But I went about it anyway. Over the several years I worked high and low with children and youth. I sought out jobs that seemed right without knowing what made them that way. Working for minimum wage and below, I often juggled more than two jobs, tying together loose ends as I needed to.

Throughout my life I have engaged in the unknown. This is different from merely experiencing it; instead, its diving into it headfirst, fully aware of the possible risks and well knowing there could be great rewards. Of course, my rewards have always been human, a smile on a kid’s face, a glowing review by a teen, a warm hug and thanks from a colleague. But there were always unknown. As often as my work has paid out, it has failed, landing flat on the floor instead of soaring into the skies.

Today I understand that living engaged requires diving into the unknown, reaching up past the clouds, and going within beyond the seen. It seems this has always been the work of the giants I have known. The friends and mentors who have seemed most powerful, most capable, and most loving were the ones who knew well the abyss of uncertainties facing them daily. Yet they struggled with open eyes, glancing upwards occasionally, or looking downwards when they had to- but always keeping an eye inward and forward allowed them to stay onward in their tasks.

My goal today is to engage in the unknown. Do one thing I’m afraid of. Dream out loud. Speak by listening. Stop wanting and start knowing. That’s the irony, isn’t it? Sometimes knowing is the unknown. Don’t be afraid; instead walk with me, and we’ll go together.

CommonAction is available to train, speak, and share about this topic and many others. Contact me to talk about the possibilities by emailing adam@commonaction.org or calling (360)489-9680.


Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

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