There have been several times in my life when I had no idea what I was getting into. Times when, had I known, I would have backed away – said no, never, not for me – and yet not possessing this foresight, I entered blindly…

… and then, seeing what lay before me, thrashed and struggled like a fish on a line; railed at having been duped; howled at the moon for the hoodwinking, the trickery, the injustice that I had not seen this coming.

(Really the howling was at myself; on every occasion I had known it was going to be hard, had counselled myself to steel my nerve and stiffen my sinew; and yet had failed utterly to foresee how hard; to comprehend the depth, and breadth, and height of valleys and oceans and mountains to be tackled.)

Every time, I could have washed my hands of the whole endeavour and walked away; but I knew that to do so would inflict greater long-term damage than I was willing to tolerate. It was too late, I was committed, and now I was stuck between a rock and hard place with few acceptable choices but the grim determination to ride it out.

And looking back and invoking those feelings of rage and entrapment and torment and frustration which so infuriated me at the time, I am deeply grateful for every one of these hard times. I wouldn’t change a single one of them, and if I could go back I’d do it all over again.

Sometimes the lessons were mere weeks in the learning; sometimes years. Sometimes it’s been ‘thank god that’s over and thank god I did it’. Sometimes it’s taken revisiting a place where once I was miserable and resentful, now feeling enriched and grounded and wiser, to feel the lesson sink into my bones. Will I remember this, the next time I enter blindly and find myself thrown off course, thrashing wildly, miles out of my depth? Will I remember that eventually it will pass, and that eventually I’ll be the riper for it? Will I remember that the hardest times have the deepest lessons?

If I’d known what I was in for, I would never have done these impulsive things; would never have had these unusual, challenging experiences and learned these lessons. If I’d looked – really looked – I would never have leaped. Had I known what I was getting into, I would never have got off the starting blocks. I’m so glad I was –  am –  ignorant, naïve, foolish, reckless. I’m so glad that I can’t see round corners.

Photo by Henry Lo on Unsplash