Masses of people gather to participate in a "rose march" in honour of the victims of Friday's bomb attack and shooting massacre, outside Oslo City Hall(Photo courtesy Reuters Norway)

I attended a fundraiser a few nights ago with a friend who was desperate not to go alone. She said she hates lurking on the sidelines looking for someone familiar. I, however, love the prospect of being anonymous in a crowd of others who are all a mystery to me.

The Excitement/Angst of the Unknown

Most people fall into two categories: those who look for the sameness in life and those who don’t.

I grew up in a family of rituals. Hard core rituals. Vacations always in the same place (photos of the same family pose year after year). Embedded behaviors – Sunday brunch 2 PM sharp. You didn’t veer too much off the expectation of “how we do things”. Predictability reigned supreme. Nothing wrong with it.

Except it is boring.

I suspect it was the result of living through a World War that made sameness a good thing.

I craved different. Different ideas. New and unusual people. Strange places. Someone with whom I had no history. Somewhere exotic that created wonder before my eyes.

Working The “Strangers” Experience

Before the fundraiser, we met for a drink and talked about the event. Venue – a large converted factory into office space and artist lofts. People – mixed group but primarily Hispanic (fundraiser was in support of inner city reclamation of empty property lots into community gardens for self-sufficiency). Outside my experience.

The only two people I knew were my friend and the Executive Director of the non-profit organization whom I met once before.

The excitement of the physical space and non-profit concept was electric. Salsa music blared. Corn chips and quesadillas. Bankers and blue-collar workers. All together in celebration of a program that succeeds for a community that suffers from lack of fresh vegetables. A perfect combination of new ideas, people and places.

Stepping Into Unknown

Consider the following: We don’t know what the next moment will bring. We can plan. We can anticipate. We can expect. But we are all traveling with the next moment as a potential for dramatic change. It’s the blessing or curse of living.

Clinging to a ritual is a nurturing activity. The familiarity helps settle the unease of life’s surprises. We can only navigate our life with our maps – our direct experience of knowledge. It helps us feel connected and in control.

Balance the predictable with the unknown consciously. Do something different today. Try a new food. Start a conversation with someone in the checkout lane. Listen to new music. Make an effort to experience one new thing every day. Keep your comfort zone wide enough to catch wonder happening every moment.

What will you do differently today?

Non-profit Pitch

If the idea of turning abandoned property into green zones clicks with you, check out Groundwork USA