Going into the unknown (Quote of the Month, January 2011)

One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

– André Gide

Just a few days ago I watched my cousin’s dog Pax playing with two balls. Pax is quite intelligent dog and can do various tricks that my cousin has taught him. However he is young and inexperienced and it was fun watching him trying to grab another ball with his mouth while already holding one. Of course it didn’t work. He didn’t comprehend that in order to grab the second ball, he first has to let go of the ball he was already holding.

The dog didn’t want to lose what he already had and be without a ball in his mouth even for a short second. We, humans, also often do not understand that getting something new may also require letting go of something old. And being without either one in between – not just for a second but for an extended period of time. A few centuries ago sailing across an ocean took several weeks or even months. Old, familiar shore, had to be left behind. On the open sea the ship was cut away from supplies, had to deal with storms and changing winds and had no communication with anyone. The members of a crew could rely only on themselves – and they didn’t always know where they are, where they’re going and how long it will take them.

We don’t live in the Age of Discovery anymore, and modern ships have radars, GPS and satellite phones. But this month’s quote is timeless, as it is a metaphor anyway. From time to time one gets an idea, a vision of what he or she may want to become or achieve. Whether you will actually accomplish it depends on many things, one of them, having willingness to step into the unknown, to take the risk of leaving the familiar behind and, while not even knowing how long it will take you, having faith that you will reach the other side one day.

Last week I watched movie The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith on DVD. It is a great film and based on a true story. The main character played by Will is not very successful at his job, working as a self-employed salesman. Actually he is broke all the time, and he has a son that he needs to take care of. He then gets a chance to be in a six-month internship program for a stockbroker but the placement is not paid and at the end of the program only one out of twenty candidates will be hired. He is in a dilemma whether to take the program or not. He decides to take a chance, enters the program and goes on a journey that takes him from living in a motel to being homeless and finally, after long, hard work and studying, to being hired and becoming a successful broker.

It could have been otherwise. If he had not been the best candidate, he would not be hired and the story might not have a happy ending. However, if he played it safe and instead of entering a risky program decided to take some other, safer job, he for sure would not become the successful stockbroker that he did.

He was willing to lose sight of the shore.

Posted on January 31, 2011, in Quote of the Month and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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