Living Near The Edge

Living Near The Edge

I now live in Denver and I am sitting in a hip coffee shop looking out at a foreign street scape that holds different opportunities than I am accustomed to. I notice that everything is different yet this new episode has a familiar quality. My adventurous spirit has guided me to uncharted territory before, and I am OK with the discomfort. I believe that is is possible to feel like a stranger and still be at home. My sister pointed out that living in the city, for me, is like being an expat in my own country. Touché.

When was the last time you did something different, a bit risky and out of the ordinary? I like to refer to this unknown place as the edge – that line across which two solid surfaces meet. It can have a sharp or striking quality, and it is often distinctive. You can choose a route around this foreseen obstacle or you can head towards it.

Our preferences begin at a young age. When my nieces were little, we hiked into the mountains to camp near an alpine lake filled with frigid water from the snowmelt. One niece went to the edge and dipped her toe in the water, testing the temperature, while her younger sister ran past her and jumped right in. She leapt up screaming and ran back to shore. After observing, my other niece walked a little further into the water, took a quick dip and got out. Both had the same experience, yet with a completely different approach. This icy swim was an edge for both them, a new and daring experience. Twenty years later, I see them each approach life is a similar manner – one thoughtful and calculated, the other more uninhibited and spontaneous. By our very nature, we are who we are.

I have always been one of those people who will skip towards the edge, and after I have reached it, I anticipate the next one. I can say with certainty, that I like the aliveness of being there. It has occurred to me that I am happier standing slightly off balance than I am on stable ground.

The edge is a fitting metaphor that represents that place where we stretch ourselves and strive to be at the top of our game: be it parenting, our profession, athletic pursuits, health or ambition. How often do you actually stop to look beyond, and anticipate what life will be like on the other side of what you love and do best? What happens when you arrive at a plateau, and you can no longer reach the edge?

I am beginning to trust that the richness is actually here, hidden from our immediate view. It is this fertile soil filled with unexpected opportunities, new challenges and different ways to see the world. I find that I am longing to rest in this place, feel the grass between my toes and sow the seeds that I have planted. To “rest” is not to be complacent or lazy; it is to reside in a place that I can count on, a spot that feels more simple and secure. I can take deep breath, trust myself and set my sights from here.

In this place, I am no less motivated to be my best and fulfill my ever-evolving dreams, I just have a different kind of energy behind it. I have heard it said that a true master will embrace the plateau, pause here to get curious and learn. I want to be able to trust that wherever I am, at which ever plateau, I can dig deep and draw from my journey thus far.

A few ideas to prepare you for the journey over the edge:

  1. Slow down
  2. Notice when you feel uncomfortable
  3. Pause here, you are most likely approaching your edge
  4. Look over; start to explore what is on the other side; get curious
  5. Have conversations with others, you probably are not traveling alone
  6. Find stillness and listen, it is OK to squirm in discomfort
  7. Ask yourself, “How will I handle it when I can not come here anymore; what will be my challenge?”
  8. And finally, what can I finally let go of?
  9. What is attainable from this new place?

Many of my friends are taken aback that I moved to a city, and they often ask how I am doing. I like to say that “there is beauty wherever I go, and when I focus on that, I am quite happy.” In the spirit of a true explorer, I am doing things I have never done before, and I am still jumping into the cold water!