A view of life centred on the goals of “safety and security” can be a fruitless path to death. The human race has not endured because it was safe from extinction. Quite the contrary! The human race has continued to exist because it has proven itself to be adaptable and creative in the face of certain annihilation. Human beings live when they can look beyond the obstacles and obstructions to life and see possibility in novel ways to move forward.
My husband and I are facing the prospect of entering the “retirement” phase of our working lives. While it is a time of great expectations, anticipation and planning, it is also a time of concern, anxiety and fear. One thing we can do is to try to stay focused on possibility so that we can be flexible and adapt to new realities.
Focusing on safety and security often means focusing on what we stand to lose. We can become too concerned with supplies that are diminishing, and that can send us into hoarding and hiding behaviours. Focusing on creativity and possibility means focusing on abundance. It means not clinging to things we thought were safe or absolutely necessary for our happiness, health or wealth. It means letting go of what’s not working in order to follow a new path towards something life giving.
The history of human evolution certainly hasn’t been a story about security. We have endured because we are risk-takers. We try creative new things when the old things don’t work anymore. This can mean anything from finding a new food source to dealing with a changing climate.
Two things are required to live this way. First, we have to be able to let go of things the way they are, even if we have been taught to believe that the way things are means we’ll be safe and secure. Second, we have to hone our commitment to engaging life as it really is. That means that among the endless arrays of possibilities that lie before us are choices that we can make that will be a way forward towards living meaningfully and fruitfully.
These choices often won’t seem “safe” and sometimes they may even seem threatening. We may have to look beyond the behaviours, habits and traditions that we’ve been clinging to. We may have to abandon our certainty that safety and security can only be found in those places.
Staying safe and secure in what we “know” means the world shrinks to the size of what we can “handle” with our diminishing strength and power. True power lies in launching ourselves in new directions, exploring new possibilities, and in stretching our minds, bodies and spirits to adapt to new environments and new challenges.