As I am wont to do, while I was performing this quick fix, I thought about life. It dawned on me that just as I had payed more attention to the centre of the squares, all but ignoring the edges, so most of us tend to do this same thing in our lives. We place a lot of attention on the centre; on the big, familiar, comfortable things, and we overlook the amazing possibilities that lie right at the edges of our comfort zone.
I am a creature of habit. I love the certainty of routine. I love feeling in control. I love having the chance to be prepared for things so that I’m not left scrambling and so I don’t feel foolish. I feel like I know exactly where my edges are and I often avoid going too close to them. In baking terms, I love the centre pieces. I’ve been known to leave the edge pieces in the pan for days, and then when I’ve ignored them for so long they become stale, I feel ok about tossing them.
Being a mathematician, I thought it might be ‘fun’ to figure out just how much of the squares are official edges. When I thought back to my squares and recognized that most of the topping was in the centre, I made the assumption that about one to one-and-one half inches of the edges of a nine-inch pan were scantly covered. Doing a quick calculation, if it really was only an inch that wasn’t well-covered, it would mean that 21% of the pan of squares had not received my full attention. Twenty-one percent of this pan would never reach its potential! Using the more generous approximation of one and one-half inches, thirty-one percent of the pan would be less than ideal. In terms of a batch of squares this really doesn’t make a big impact on life. In life the stakes are much higher.
If I use only the smaller calculation, is it possible that I could be missing out on twenty-one percent of incredible possibilities in my life, simply because I’m choosing to not go too close to the edge? The older I get, the more precious every year becomes and I can’t bear the thought of not wringing every single bite out of life.
One way for me to do this is to stand close to the edge and look outward instead of looking in. By doing this, I’m able to see possibilities I couldn’t see before when I was only willing to look at what gave me comfort. What I also notice standing at the edge, is that although it is unfamiliar territory, there are bits of it I recognize. A few nuts and Chipits are already scattered there. Stepping into this land is not completely uncharted land. And man, I’d hate to let those lonely Chipits go to waste!
If you read my blog a couple of weeks ago you’ll know that Jim’s mom was coming for a visit to meet her new great- grandson, Benjamin. You’ll also know that she is 88 years old and that she does not travel as much as she once did. She has had her share of health issues in the last few years. However, when I invited her to come, her response was instant and definite. ‘Yes, I’d love to!’ This continued to be her response to everything we had planned when she was here. Are you up for a brunch on Sunday? Yes! Would you like to come and see our dance performance? Yes! Do you feel like going to build a birdhouse at Jim’s workshop? Yes! Would you like to go to Rhyme Time with Benjamin at the library? Yes! How about a trip to High River for lunch? Yes!
Great Grandma Kimberley’s edges have not yet been defined. She continues to expand them, both with her capacity for open-minded thinking and with her capacity to believe she has enough experience to navigate unfamiliar edges. She wants chocolate chips and nuts sprinkled right to the very edges of the pan!
These days I’m looking to expand my edges. As I do so, I want to fill in the space between the old familiar ‘centre’ and the new ‘edge’ with rich, vibrant ideas, adventures and memories. I want to say yes to a few things that scare me and say hello to a few new people who might just be friends-in-waiting. I want to speak up when I recognize that there is a need for my voice. I want to replace the question, ‘Can I do this?’ with the better question of ‘How can I make this happen?’ I want to make the edges of my life just as delicious as the centre has always been.
As you enter the months of summer, I encourage you to notice your edges and to start sprinkling some chocolate and nuts on them. It makes them far less scary to walk toward.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘Where is my new edge?’
Elizabeth is a life and leadership coach in Calgary, AB. She provides leadership coaching for individuals and groups and she creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. Contact Elizabeth to help you or your organization to figure out how to manage the edges in your life.