Smiling at the Unknown

I love words.

For instance, the word ‘decant’ is particularly mellifluous. If you have the opportunity to use it and instead you choose its inferior cousin ‘pour’ then we may need to rethink our friendship.

But words are best when you stick them together with other words.

You know those moments when a group of words just stops you in your tracks? When a song lyric somehow perfectly captures exactly what you’re feeling or someone says something that suddenly turns on a light in your head. These guys just threw some words together and out popped some wisdom, or truth, or beauty. Amazing.

I like those moments.

There’s a line in the middle eight of an Athlete song that always does that to me. It’s not very complicated. It’s not even the most poetic line of the song.

‘I see you smiling at the unknown’

I’m such a big fan of that idea. Of looking out at future’s ocean. The endless sea of hopes and doubts and dreams. All the possibilities. All the fears and ambitions. Everything that can seem so overwhelming. Facing all of that. And smiling. Not a polite, wedding-photo smile. A great big ‘come on then world – do your worst’ grin.

See, we spend so much of our lives looking for certainty and security – something to rely on, put our trust in. Avoiding the unknown at all costs. And there’s a certain degree of wisdom to that. But only a small one.

Because if we never allow room for the unknown, then the results we get will never be different from what we have always achieved.

And we cannot control everything. So often we find that the stuff we tried to build our lives on – the things that we relied on to give us security, to protect us from the unknown – were not nearly as stable as they first appeared.

I’m not saying we should all abandon everything we know. That we should turn from everything in our past and make only reckless decisions from now on – possibly involving Nigerian princes and inordinate amounts of money just waiting to be deposited to our bank accounts.

No, the point is that we cannot avoid the unknown. But we can choose how we react to it.

Perhaps things aren’t turning out quite how you planned, and a lot of what you thought you knew has recently turned to dust beneath your feet? (Ever tried to stand on dust? Not easy) Or a new adventure lies ahead and you’re just not sure what the future holds? Or you have big decisions to make?

Instead of clinging desperately to the edge of your comfort zone, why not let go and welcome the unknown with open arms and a massive grin. See what happens.

Now, bring me that horizon…

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