You know how sometimes you find inspiration in unexpected places? On a recent morning, while I was preparing a cup of tea, this quote on the tag of the tea bag grabbed my attention: “The unknown is where all outcomes are possible; enter it with grace.” These words have been hanging out in the back of my mind ever since.
I am a planner by nature, so the unknown is a place or scenario I’ve tended to avoid. I’m not one who likes the vulnerability of stepping into unfamiliar situations without plenty of information, background, or a wingperson. And I often hold myself to unrealistic standards: I feel like I don’t show up as fully as I could have had I known the full scope of what was ahead. If only life came with a crystal ball.
But life is full of all sorts of unknowns, and they’ve forced me out of my comfort zone more times than I can count. In most cases, I’ve made connections or discoveries that opened the door to new possibilities, new interests, and new hobbies. (My skiing adventure in Breckenridge, Colo., is a prime example of this — read all about it at “Ski School“.) There are only a handful of times that I’ve come away from a new experience with regrets or wished that I’d stayed home.
And while that largely positive track record doesn’t always make the next new thing easier to face, it does help moderate the intimidation of trying.
I’m eager to stumble upon some unexpected scenery and roadside charms. And I’m committed to letting the unknown create possibilities we couldn’t have predicted or imagined.”
One of the most effective ways I’ve found to embrace the unknown is through travel, which, by its nature, forces me to be more open to the novel and unfamiliar. For instance, I’ll never forget my first trip to New York City: It was for a work conference, and I was equal parts terrified and exhilarated about visiting one of the world’s biggest cities. After a couple of unexpected hiccups en route, I found my bearings and had so many amazing experiences. That trip has since inspired several return visits — and given me a sense of confidence about spreading my wings there and elsewhere.
As it has for so many, my travel has been limited these last few years, but I’m excited about some upcoming trips, including plans for a first-ever Martin-family road trip, from the Twin Cities, Minn., to Asheville, N.C., this summer. Vacations are one of the few things I don’t plan for our family, and I have only a vague idea of what my husband has mapped out.
While I know a few of the activities on our itinerary once we get to Asheville — hiking, whitewater rafting, and horseback riding — I have no clue what route we’re taking to get there, how our kids will handle the drive, where we’re staying. And for once, I’m actually looking forward to seeing how it all organically unfolds out there on the open road — to taking any detours and inevitable fights in stride, to letting go of expectations of how things “should” be going, to simply being present.
I’m eager to stumble upon some unexpected scenery and roadside charms. And I’m committed to letting the unknown create possibilities we couldn’t have predicted or imagined.
As you move through your days this summer (and all through the year), I hope you can be open to the unknown and its opportunities. Perhaps this issue will inspire you to try a new sport, like pickleball (check out our July/August cover story), or a challenging new workout like this one. Maybe your unknown will be something relatively simple, like experimenting with a new recipe for your grill, or something more complex, like quitting that thing that no longer brings you joy (see “How to Know When to Quit” for more on that!).
The possibilities truly are endless. So let’s make the best of the ones we encounter — and give ourselves the grace to show up just as we are.