When contemplating a life change, what’s better: scared or sensible? How does one choose? And why?

After wrestling for several grueling weeks with making a radical, lock-stock-and-barrel move, I’ve decided to stay put and work on making a meaningful internal geographic instead. In many ways this kind of psychological change is a much tougher adventure, in unseen, undramatic ways.

The preparation for the move was an exhausting, yet exhilarating, decision-intense process. It required debriding the house, editing years of life, rummaging through cupboards, dragging hefty bags of clothes to thrift stores and schlepping boxes of books to the library.

Now, sitting quietly at dusk in a strangely barren house, the decision NOT to move and start fresh elsewhere seemed to have suddenly drained the color out of life, leaving me stuck on a melancholy ice floe, wondering what my real motivation was to begin with.

Susan Dworski
Susan Dworski

I blamed myself, mourning my lack of courage. Was I a wimp? Simply too chicken to make the change?

Viewing the video of a busload of British travelers navigate a Himalayan road chittering with uncontrolled nervous laughter began to put things into perspective: Not for me a rock-strewn sliver 2,000 feet over the Brahmaputra.

Reading Kay Ryan’s poem, No Names* helped to further talk me down off my stone grey ledge.

There are high places
that don’t invite us,
sharp scapes, glacier-
scraped faces, whole
ranges whose given names
slip off. Any such relation
as we try to make
refuses to take. Some
high lakes are not for us,
some slick escarpments.
I’m giddy with thinking
where thinking can’t stick.

Morning can be a powerful tonic for mourning. Outside the window, a lemon yellow linnet is trying to drink from the hummingbird feeder, pecking furiously at the scarlet plastic floret for a sip of sugar. Everywhere I look…a living rainbow. Emerald hedge, periwinkle sky, magenta impatiens, cadmium orange gazanias.

susan dworki
susan dworki

It hits me suddenly. We’re not stuck in Kansas, Toto. The colors never left. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of my choosing to see them, or not. The rooms and closets may be emptier, yes. But those things I’ve chosen to keep are blessed with a new significance.

Susan Dworski
Susan Dworski

Perhaps sitting quietly in an empty house is exactly what’s needed to begin that inward journey to rediscover the true colors of life. Perhaps that’s the journey that calls for true courage.

Susan Dworski

*from The Best of It: New and Selected Poems

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6 replies on “What’s Better: Scared or Sensible? And why?

  1. Aah Susan, your words from years past…

    “A house is just a house, a shell for living.
    Even the most beautiful shells are often cast away on deserted beaches
    when their owners outgrow them and move on.
    If you can make beauty once, you can make it again and again
    in new and wonderful ways.
    And, there’s nothing more exciting than an unknown future.”

    S Dworski: July 2004

  2. I think that “scared or sensible” may be a false choice. (Of course, that opinion may come from my “sensible” approach most of the time.) I believe we’re wired differently, and what seems sensible to some is incredibly risky to others…it’s all in the individual view of reality.
    I’ve always preferred to experiment within the generally familiar and comfortable, being surrounded by an environment with lots of decisions already made (job choices, where I live with its paint colors, furniture, animals, even placement of implements and tools that stay in their assigned places for decades) which gives me an ability to focus on other things. What project for those tools to work, what book to read, whether to stay home today or go out into the world. With many decisions made, I have the time to focus on the others that are up for grabs today.

  3. Dear Susan,

    The choice to go through our fear and trust life is so uncomfortable and scary that we forget that we are making a courageous and powerful choice. The vulnerability that makes us feel so awkward and ugly is just an illusion; in truth we are glowing with beauty and light.

    I celebrate your strength and your courage. I think you’re amazing.

    “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” (L. Cohen)

  4. Sandy, your post is most interesting and does go to “wiring” of each person. But it can make great sense to go with what is familair and comfortable as a way of having a “platform” for experimentation or shifts of gear.

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

  5. That Susan is a wise one. YES. “If you can make beauty once, you can make it again in new and wonderful ways.”

  6. BRILLIANT: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” (L. Cohen) Thank you!

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