The Unknown

We have all had the experience of attending a new school, whether it is the first day of kindergarten or switching to a new high school mid year. As the first day approaches, there is the thrill of anticipation mixed with the disquiet of facing the unknown. Excited thoughts of new adventures are mingled with concerns of fitting in and finding friends.

As we move beyond school, there are major events like new jobs, marriage and having children, each of which is accompanied by that same mix of excitement and apprehension. A similar rush of adrenaline and ache in the pit of the stomach can be felt before smaller moments like leading a meeting for the first time or throwing a first party. There is always a chance something unexpected could happen.

Once we have done something many times, the excitement and unease fade. It becomes just another meeting or party, nothing to get too excited about. What was a huge nerve-wracking event becomes commonplace. Sometimes we feel that we are doing the same thing over and over again, year in and year out. We drive the same routes, work with the same people and see the same neighbors. We may feel we are in a deep rut.

The yoga center has a predictable flow: the brochures for the next session are mailed, registration starts, the current session ends, there is a short break and then the new session begins. Yet each session brings new students and many returning students change classes, levels and instructors. There are new combinations of students in classes and different levels of enrollment. Even though the outer rhythm stays the same, there are constant variations within it.

I have taught beginning yoga classes for years, and at one point I taught five beginning yoga classes per session. I find it fascinating that no class is ever the same. The students have different amounts of energy and interests, different injuries, and different questions. An explanation of a pose that works well in one class is met with blank stares in the next. These variations have kept the classes new and interesting year after year.

The unknown can be as thrilling and scary as the first day of school, but often, it is unrecognized. When a party becomes just another party, we forget there is always the chance someone could spill red wine on the carpet.

When you stop and consider, there is always some uncertainty in everything in life. You never really know what will happen when you step out of your door each morning, much less what you will find when you enter your office or what your children will tell you when they arrive home from school. Even when you talk with a spouse or an old friend, you are never exactly certain what they are thinking or feeling at that time. From previous experience, there are expectations, but you can never completely predict what will happen.

Now we are beginning a new year. It is a time of new resolutions and new beginnings, a recognized and celebrated step into the unknown. New resolutions create a sense of excitement, accomplishment or worry at first, but after a while these emotions tend to fade as a routine becomes established.

We would have trouble functioning if we lived each day as if it were the first day of school. Constant excitement and nervousness would wear us down. However, life without the unknown would be incredibly dull. The trick is to see the infinite variations within our regular schedules and to realize that the unknown is always there. With the unknown there is always something new.