In order to go anywhere, your mind and body have to be ready to go. I believe this is why most people don’t travel far from their home. We are not willing to leave behind the familiar to seek out the unfamiliar. For some of us, there is too much danger in the unknown.
In Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, he wrote how he remembered his childhood as a small one stick fighting with his friends in their village. It was one of the happiest times of his life. The only clothing they wore was a blanket across their shoulders. When he moved to a larger village, he had to dress differently and learn new customs. He missed his village, but the new places brought on new adventures and new opportunities.
Like Mandela as a child, those moments of learning create conflict for us. I know I hate being made to feel stupid for not knowing something. But I realize not all families have the same values or customs which makes you have to have a conversation with others about how things should function. We are too frightened to ask someone why they do things a certain way.
Everyone has gaps in their knowledge. We do not know everything about everyone. We all need to learn something from someone else. If we are fortunate, we are surrounded by people who can give us that information. Other times we have to do what we can with what we got. And this is where the adventure usually comes in.
I am a product of integration, which means I went to white schools most of my life. My parents did not go to white schools. So there were times when we would have a conversation about things they knew nothing about. It is difficult to advise a child when you don’t know what they are talking about. Yet my sisters and I learned to adapt. Many times we just handled it ourselves.
Example, my parents had no concept or idea of sending me to college once I graduated high school. But I decided I wanted to go and started investigating it. Many of the kids around me were going to college. It seemed like the logical thing to do. (I had no concept of going and getting a job which was probably their idea of what happens after you graduate high school.) There were times they looked at me like I was crazy, but I just thought they were dumb parents. I had no clue I was defying all of the odds against me.
Because I did not have a source of folk to ask questions, I forged ahead. My ignorance was bliss, and it worked for me. I also had no idea of college cost because I chose one of the most expensive universities in the area. And the truth is my parents were probably happy I was leaving their house. It was good to get rid of an obnoxious teenager.
The truth is the journey starts in your head and heart. If it is not there, then your feet are moving for no purpose. If there is a fire inside of you, then it can get you through anything. If there is no intention behind what you do, then you are like snow blowing. You are moving here and there not sure where you will land.
My experiences during that time have taught me something about myself and my journey. Sometimes there are going to be gaps. It keeps you humble. You have to admit you don’t know something. You have to be willing to learn new things. Opportunity comes when you combine the two.