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  • Writer's pictureH.D. Lee

Life as Exploration

Recently, a friend asked me via WhatsApp what I have been up to since we do not see each other often or talk all that much. While those who know me know that I am fond of giving long and detailed responses, I gave only a one word reply to his question: “exploring”. My friend came back with “what do you mean?”

As I felt there was something to be explored behind what it means to be exploring, I opted not to give a half-cooked response. Instead, I began to marinate myself in the question. Several weeks of reflection took me back to the years when I was seeking my path, a time during which I was thirsty for a singular purpose and mission in life. Then, it took me forward to the recent weeks when everything began to crystalize into monolithic proportions. I saw how much wonder has come into my life because of my explorations, and how important it is to never stop exploring whether or not one has “found oneself”.

Indeed, something mysterious and unknowable is always happening in our lives. It is merely up to us to notice, follow the trail of breadcrumbs, and walk to other side while the portal is open. Only by looking back, as Steve Jobs would say, can one connect the dots. Meanwhile, it is up to us to follow what intrigues us. In short, life can be an adventure. You do not need to be Indiana Jones or be wealthy in order to experience this truth.

The Dance

Adventure and exploration both connote an acceptance and welcoming of the unknown. The mystery of how a chance encounter or seemingly banal event may lead one toward a deeper knowing of one’s destiny is simply fascinating. This is because when you really believe you are in partnership with the higher power in the shaping of your destiny, you know what you do matters, and you see that there is a dance between your actions and the response that is coming back from the Universe.

In other words, one begins to pay attention to what is unfolding moment-to-moment as feedback, guidance, and support. I remember the day I decided that I would no longer delay my pursuit of what is truly important. I felt the entrance of a mysterious force into my life. This was a dark and difficult time personally, but I was not afraid because I trusted in what was happening. With the singular unwavering thought that there must be a way, the path unfolded a step at a time. I began to discover information, people, and organizations that would help move me toward my goal in ways that were beyond my imagination. It all seemed to happen magically, almost without effort. Yes, I was an actor who had a part to perform in this play, but the play was not directed by me. I simply had to follow the cues and be open to the developing story.

The role that I played was not a passive one. I am aware that I might be giving this impression but it was not the case. I did extensive research in the direction I wanted to move toward, I made tremendous efforts to face my personal situation honorably, and I had to make significant changes about my life in order to follow my calling. None of this was easy; and yet it was, because I trusted in something greater than I. As a result, help always came at the right time.

The most valuable part of this experience was that I began to understand that nothing was happening at random. There was a logic to the formation and timing of events, which were echoed in my dreams, waking thoughts, and inexplicable desires. Woven together in an enigmatic fashion, the pattern of events, dreams, thoughts, and desires led me to people, places, and situations which were life changing. Having exchanged with colleagues and dear friends on this topic, I can see that what happened to me (and is continuing to happen to me) is something that also happens to others.

The Space

The question is, then, how can one be an enabler to one’s life which is begging to be explored? Rick Jarow speaks of a “quality of space that allows for new people and possibilities to enter our lives, of creating enough room for the creative flow to come in and dance with us.” How we answer the following questions may give us a hint about just how we do or do not allow that space to exist in our lives: Do you take the time to look at strangers in the eye while commuting to work? Are you often lost in your world of Spotify, Facebook, and WhatsApp whenever you have the chance to do nothing? Do you ever wander down the streets for no particular reason other than to engage with your environment instead of trying to get somewhere in the most direct route possible? Do you give yourself the excuse to do something you really want to do, which does not make sense, maybe not even to you? This space that Rick Jarow is talking about is as easy to create as it is to snuff out. By freeing the attention of your mind from particulars and opening it up to the world, a look can turn into an exchange, and an exchange can turn into an inspirational lifelong friendship.

This is the essence of exploration which I wished to communicate to my friend. I wished to transmit that knowing that potential treasure awaits behind every interaction with people, nature, and life in its totality. It is simply up to us to lift the veil and enter the mystery.

Note: this article was originally published in 2017 on my personal website.

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