When we’re past 60 and in the third phase of our life, there is a tendency to seek the familiar, to seek comfort and live out our days with measured excitement.

Organized travel tours, cruise ships to explore new places, temperature controlled homes to keep our bodies comfortable, gym memberships to stay healthy and fit.

Some lucky 60-plussers have the means, the health and the mental fortitude to explore new careers, new ways of living, new activities. Others struggle with health and finances to get from one day to the next. All 60-plussers share the unknown.

How do you want to live with the unknown in the years ahead? Do you seek the familiar; do you seek security in a way that cuts you off from the unknown?

Delight in the New

In a dialogue with fellow Greek philosopher Meno, Plato asks, “How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?” This question has been puzzling me. It seems impossible to go looking for something when you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Yesterday I went out on a skiing trip. A long day in nature, a trail I hadn’t skied on in many, many years; a trail I wasn’t sure I could find. That’s a lot of unknowns you could say. Snow conditions can change terrain to make the familiar unrecognizable. Yet each season I set out on the trail to do just that. I go find what is unknown.

As I was standing under a snow-laden tree, suddenly the snow load came down over me, embracing me on all sides, cold, taking away my vision and then gliding down. The event happened so suddenly and unexpectedly I experienced it without expectations or fear.

I didn’t get uncomfortable or fearful because it happened so rapidly. It was exhilarating. Nature was playing with me. I felt like a child who gets thrown high in the air by a parent and experiences a mixture of excitement and just less than frightening newness.

The Unknown, Big and Small

When I go out beyond the ordinary well-trodden trails, I see things and have experiences unknown to me. Experiences that lead me to a new way of feeling in the world. Things that color the familiar in new tones. I’m too old to go diving into a snowbank as I might have done as a child; I avoid the dangerous at this point in my life.

But I’m not too old to push the edges of the familiar: a long hike into the bigger wilderness away from towns and civilization, a ski away from the groomed trail. Each time I do so I find the unknown. Even living in my comfortable home, I experiment with my life style. I experiment with new meditation routines, I re-model using innovative technology, I create a neighborhood group defying the tendency of people to isolate behind the walls of their homes.

I walk to do all my errands and use my car sparingly. And I find the unknown in big and small ways: meditation curbs my appetite, on demand hot water makes me choose every time I turn on the tap. I run into a neighbor who offers to water my plants while I go away.

Every time I run into the unknown my heart skips a beat in excitement; I feel the joy of being alive and the pleasure of finding something new. I hope I will never get too old to do so.

What do you do to find the unknown in your life? What unexpected things do you love to explore? Please share your experiences.

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