I was recently sharing a story about three successive relationship changes I’d experienced when my friend observed that in fact, it seemed that each time I engaged, I learned more about what it is that I really want. I was instantly reminded of the wisdom of Goldilocks and how much I enjoy the first part of her story.
If you recall, in the opening sequences, Goldilocks figures out how she is feeling (hungry and tired) and looks to meet her needs. To do so, she goes exploring and finds an empty house that offers various options. She tries a little of each option, only to discover that there is one solution that works better for her than the others. Specifically, while one of the porridges is too hot, the other, too cold - there is one that is just right.
Isn’t that true about life? We don’t always know exactly what will meet our needs, so we may need to try a few different things to figure out what is just right for us. I love that idea. First we have to see how we feel, decide what that tells us about what we want and then we begin to research how we might fulfill our desires to create a life we love.
Instead of considering the things we try (and decide not to stick with) as wasted time, perhaps we can see them as critical steps along a path that informs us about our “right” path. Maybe that is why many second marriages or second careers can be more fulfilling than the first. It takes time to know who we are and what we want. Not only that, but our feelings and needs may also change over time. That requires us to engage in exploration many times over our lifetime in a variety of ways in order to determine where we want to go next. In short, experimenting and starting over, is a proven method for informed, creative life-long problem solving.
The places that the Goldilocks’ story breaks down for me, is the second half AND where she invades someone else’s belongings to get what she needs. There are endless opportunities for self-discovery that don’t involve coveting or destroying that which supports others.
So while the tale of Goldilocks’ wanderings offers some great insights, it could use a rewrite.
Why ruin the beautiful lesson about the value of exploration by intimating that our personal journey must disturb or even destroy someone else’s environment? When we explore, we don’t necessarily break other people things or use up all of their resources. In fact, many of our explorations benefit others and help them along their path of discovery. Rather than focusing our inner stories on punishment and shame because we might mess up someone else’s stuff, let’s focus on the benefits of searching for what fits us best.
One of the privileges of growing up is that we get to author our own stories. So, let’s figure out how to explore in ways that add to the lives of others. Believing that trying things out will result in punishment is simply a children’s story; one that is desperately in need of a rewrite.