2011-09-07 / Opinion

IN MY OPINION

New beginnings
BY BRENDA SANFORD, DECKERVILLE County Chief Assistant Prosecutor

Summer is coming to its close. The killing frost will soon be upon us. Green will turn to brown. Whether we want them to or not, seasons march forward. That’s how we mark time. An ever-revolving ritual. But as we move through our years, it’s easy to fall into a pattern. We see the same friends. Eat at the same restaurants. Buy the same brands of products. Participate in the same activities. We watch the same television shows. Listen to the same radio stations. Read the same newspapers. We do our own routine. Week after week. Year after year. It’s what feels safe. Familiar. And before we know it, our comfort zone shrinks until it closes in upon us and defines us. It’s so easy to lose our child-like sense of adventure.

Nonetheless, each chapter of our life reaches an ending. Sometimes, we can see it approaching. Other times, it strikes without warning. We hear the searing sound of a goodbye spoken too soon. We bury a loved one before we’re ready to let go. A career ends before we’re ready to quit. A dream dies without reaching fruition. We watch a building burn down in front of us. It’?s sad. It hurts. And we can’t change it. We can’t put it back the way it was. Life as we knew it is over. Forever.

And then we have a choice: to dwell in the past or to begin the next chapter. Often though, amongst the wreckage, we don’t know where to start. However, winter is not the end but the prelude to spring. The grain plants that die yield the seeds for a new crop. And while we may not see it at the time, it is true that when one door closes, another one does open. Yet, we have to move the clutter out of the way and step through it. I’ll concede that the unknown is frightening. The hidden is scary. It takes courage to risk a mistake. To challenge our beliefs. To step out of ourselves. To try something different. But I believe that the dangers of standing still far outweigh the difficulties of moving ahead. For if we don’t at least try, our wrinkles become fixed, our bones become brittle, our thoughts become stifling, and our brain goes to mush.

To fight this inertia, every summer, I vow to visit somewhere where I’ve never been. I pick a place, research the routes, figure out the places to see, and determine where best to stay. And every summer, I discover something that I never knew I never knew. I see sights I’ve never dreamed. More importantly, I learn that things I thought I knew I was wrong about. Tiny encounters with strangers have changed how I think about many things.

But you don’t have to travel to discover. There are simple steps to do right here. Explore. Venture out of your comfort zone. Strive to meet someone new and learn what makes him tick. Reach out to someone different and find out what she needs. Talk to a sad-looking stranger in line and see if you can make him smile. Read a book about something of which you know nothing. Listen to music you’ve never before heard. Enter a new store. Try a new game. Browse a different magazine. Eat an unusual food. Switch it around. Mix it up. Expand your horizons. For you’ll never know what secrets you’ll uncover or what marvels will change your world. Or what new face will jump-start your heart.

But remember, your own chapter is going to end before you’re ready to close the book. Because time doesn’t stop ticking, don’t wait too long before you attempt a new beginning.

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