I’ve lived here since 1957, more or less my whole life, first on one side of town, then the other. I left at the usual time, explored the world a little and, after a few years, returned to raise my own family. I have lived within five miles of my current neighborhood for 40 years, and I’ve walked or driven the same winding, suburban Connecticut roads to the same schools, grocery stores, meetings and work places all that time. I know this place.
On my way home last week I drove around the same, familiar, blind, third-to-last right curve before home and had to hit the brakes hard to avoid a cluster of cars and a big garbage truck on the shoulder. It’s a tricky intersection from either direction. As you come into the curve from this direction, another road comes in from the left, intersecting at a sharp angle with the road I’m on. Just beyond the intersection, the road s-curves back to the left and then to the right again, so it’s blind either way.
I can’t tell you why all those vehicles were there or recall what direction any of them seemed to be going. There was no accident, no broken glass or twisted metal or anyone outside of their cars. They weren’t parked, just barely moving. It was a sudden, unexpected, unaccounted-for cluster to navigate.
Isn’t life like that?
You think you know the lay of the land. Everything is familiar, you’re settled into a pattern, your routine. You go about your business without really having to pay too close attention. You know your zone, your role, you know what’s around the corner. And then, wham! Suddenly there’s something different there, and it is not what you expected and it jolts you into the realization that you can’t assume things will always be as they have in your life.
Life. Pay attention to it.
Pay attention to what is so familiar to you that you think you know everything there is to know about it. Pay attention to the people who are familiar to you. Pay attention to the habits that are familiar to you, habits of speech, exercise, eating. Pay attention to the thoughts and beliefs that are so familiar to you that they seem self-evident (that's a marker, right there!). The truth is, it’s quite possible that there is so much more to know about the things, people, places and beliefs that you think you know best.
Pay closer attention to what you know - there is still so much to learn.