I had a productive early morning today … and then suddenly, unexpectedly, I was tired, in desperate need of a nap. And then, when I woke up, I just knew I needed to go and get breakfast from a particular local restaurant. What then? I wasn’t sure, but I just knew I should bring a book and my laptop with me. “Maybe I’ll understand more after I eat,” I thought to myself, “and maybe I’ll just go to the Local Bookstore or the Local Coffee Shop and write a blog post.” A few hours earlier, I woke up just knowing there was something particular I needed to do.
What’s up with that? How do we just know? What leads us, sometimes, to trust that knowledge and see where the unexpected adventure will take us?
And what if we just know, but talk ourselves out of it? How often has that happened … and how often have we realized, days or months or years later, that we really did just know and needed to listen to ourselves?
On the other hand, sometimes we think we just know … and we discover, to our dismay, that we were wrong. What’s up with that?
When I walked into the restaurant, there was E with her youngest granddaughter. I’ve known E for well over twenty years. We worked together at the One School, where I taught her daughter and her son-in-law. If I’m not mistaken, they started dating while they were members of the Latin Family, much to the (temporary) dismay of C’s older brother. We’ve been there for each other in times of grief and times of joy, times of celebration and sadness, and (perhaps most of all) in times of transition.
I probably should have just known I’d see E and her granddaughter this morning!
“How are you?” she asked as she gave me a hug. “And are you still at the Other School? And how is the family?” And we caught up with each other as old friends do, and I told her the short version of my current struggles. “It’s a hard decision,” she said, reminding me that she’d just retired all the way a year or so ago. “But when the time is right, you just know.”
And oddly, after breakfast, I just knew what to do next. There’s a set of beautiful back roads through These Parts that “just happens” to take you through all a particular set of little towns, and it “just happens” that there were houses in each one that I wanted, even needed, to look at. And it “just happened” that I stopped at the Local Libraries in each of those towns.
And I just knew that something profoundly good was happening. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I just knew it was there. I’m writing this from the third one, a few hours later than usual … and apparently I just knew I’d be doing that.
It “just happens” to be the one with the best, most easily available WiFi, too.
What did I learn from my morning adventure? I learned … or maybe re-learned … that I love these little towns and the people who live there. I learned … or maybe re-learned … that I was right when I said I want to work with, not for the folks who live here as we build joyful learning communities together. I learned … or maybe re-learned … that I don’t know how to do that, how to transition from the Old and Familiar to the New and Mysterious. And I learned … or maybe re-learned … to embrace that mystery and uncertainty.
E was right. “When the time is right, you just know.”
Let’s be clear, though: what you just know is what you need to know, not necessarily what you want to know. And sometimes you think you know … but you don’t. Three small-town libraries, five or six interesting old houses, and a few brief, friendly encounters don’t make a complete pattern by any means. They don’t explain how or when to make the transition, or how to make it official with Powers That Be, or how to find the various resources you need to bring vision to reality. They don’t even explain how, when, or where to find the members of that joyful learning community, or what to do as they assemble, or what the next right steps will be after I finish this blog post. (I think a late lunch is one of those next right steps, but I’m not even sure of that!)
And yet, for some reason, I just know things will work out as they need to. Maybe not as I’d like, maybe not in a painless, pleasant way … but as they need to. And that’s oddly comforting on a day that’s turned out very different from what I’d expected.
I wonder what other insights and adventures await in the days to come! I just know there will be something, though I don’t know what it will be.