This last month I have been consciously seeking difference in my life. Reflecting on my client work recently has lead me to consider the ways in which we let ourselves move in comfortably small circles. I have wondered whether it is too easy to let our lives become a pale story of moving between known quantities; letting a sort-of staleness stiffen our minds.
Of course, we can’t always be aggravating ourselves into discomfort. There is joy in what is familiar and known. There is a safe haven in our preferred ways of being. It is OK to just be as we are. There is no insistence on change, no requirement. You are enough as you are. But sometimes, I have a deep sense that I need to go further out of myself and into the many worlds that exist around us at any one time. I want to lean into lives that are not my own.
There are countless ways we can choose to be different today, after all this is our freedom as sentient beings, and I wonder if it’s as much a mind-set as it is a practice. I cannot say that I have travelled far this month, or that I have done anything that anyone else would identify as different from the outside. But the shift to embracing difference is in me nevertheless. I have a client at the moment who is teaching me about what life is like eight decades in and uncomfortably surfaced a latent ageism in my thinking. I have, without too much fear, spoken about structural racism in the workplace. I have listened to music I’ve never heard of before. Engaged different socially. And attempted to be a different kind of sister and daughter. I have started to make new connections between the situations of life we find ourselves in by thinking differently about them. I have tried not always to reach for meaning. And most importantly I have allowed myself to feel in new ways. I have sat with a friend and told her what’s going on for me at the moment without fear of taking up too much time and space.
I am learning that you do not have to cower against the wall of your own echo chamber. I am learning that when I don’t try things differently, my bones ache with stasis. And from a decidedly human perspective, I am learning that I do, in fact, need to experience difference in order to recognise what is valuable and good in us being the same.