In a lot of ways, this month’s topic is related to September’s—exploring and learning are two sides of the same coin.

But there are a few differences between them that make them both worthy of our attention. When we talk about learning or becoming a lifelong learner, we’re talking about setting out to discover information or skills or proficiency on specific areas of interest. Exploring is really broader than that—it’s being open to whatever you might discover by stepping outside of your comfort zone.

It may seem like a topic that’s a luxury rather than a condition of a life well lived, and if we’re approaching it from the perspective of travel or vacation, that’s true. But exploration is about more than travel, more than “getting away.” As Tsh described, it’s really about a perspective that is open to discovery—to new people and ideas, new perspectives and knowledge, new sights and sounds and tastes and experiences.

It’s about growing and learning, expanding your perspective, and recognizing the possibility around you.

Truly, I think we were created to explore. From the time a newborn opens its eyes for the first time, it’s taking in the world around it. At first, their “world” is just about 12″ in front of them, made up mostly of the faces of the people who love and care for them. Over time, their vision expands and they can take in a whole room and all that’s happening. Eventually they learn to roll and crawl and scoot, and once they do, they take off—exploring every nook and cranny and seeing what there is to discover. They not only look, but they taste and feel, trying to understand the world around them.

As we get older, though, our world actually narrows in many ways. Wake up. Take care of business. Go to sleep. If we’re not careful, we can become so focused on daily life that we miss opportunities to explore, learn, and discover.

When that happens, we miss out on the wonder and beauty around us. And if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that a key ingredient for loving your life is being awed by life itself. Being able to savor the small moments in the midst of the really hard times. Being willing to celebrate the beauty in the midst of the ugly.

If our perspective is limited to our own tiny sphere, it can be easy to get sucked under when things start to go wrong, to give into despair and lose sight of the beauty. But when we’re explorers who meet and embrace other people and their stories, the beauty of the world around us, and the wonder of life itself, we find hope in the midst of that pain.

And that’s why I believe this is a topic worth devoting a full month to on this journey. I don’t think we can afford not to.

ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS

1. Do you consider yourself an explorer, or have you fallen into the (all too common) trap of only seeing what’s right in front of you?

2. How has exploring or keeping a broader perspective of the world around you helped you through a hard time in your own life?

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