I was laying on my back on one the benches that frame Columbus Circle, looking up at the massive buildings, trying to find the sky.
At home in Virginia, the view from my deck is of undeveloped mountains, and I’m used to enjoying solo hikes where I don’t meet any other person for miles. But I had just been offered a teaching position at City University of New York’s John Jay College, and I didn’t know if I could make that kind of drastic life change.
A couple thousand people had rushed through Columbus Circle within only a few minutes. The traffic noise, the skyscrapers, the overstimulation of it all . . . .
I’ve made many other scary changes in my life—leaving a difficult marriage being the biggest. But isn’t changing inwardly harder still?
A friend, who was offering thoughtful constructive criticism, recently told me that I sometimes take a superior stance toward others, especially when I think I know more about a subject than they do. I hadn’t noticed this about myself before. But now I’ve put myself on notice to make a change in this attitude.
When, to another friend, I voiced my fear of not being able to transform my inner flaws, he said, “What is there really to be scared about? If you find something you don’t like about yourself, you can always change it knowing you have God’s grace to do so.”
It is through that same grace that I will be settling into my new tiny apartment on the Hudson River and into my new large life—that’s scary in its vastness.
This change to the city is, for me, the best opportunity for growth so far. I’m moving to a strange place—alone. I can’t predict anything. But it’s not just New York City skyscrapers that can block out the sun.
Yesterday at my condo in Virginia the fog was so thick on the ridge that I could only see the trees in front of me. If I didn’t know the mountains were there beyond, with their height and beauty, and the sky was above that, with its blue expanse, I would have been afraid.
Instead I was enchanted by a different view of life that the fog brought to me.
I am walking into an unknown—a fog that surrounds me and tempts me to be afraid. But just as there are mountains behind fog and sky above tall buildings, growth—both inner and outer—is beyond change.
And there is also this:
The unfamiliar can be a source of freedom.