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Where do we go from here?

Our nation has, after months of intense contest, selected a new president. Closer to home, we have chosen a team of elected officials in our state capital and here in our local courthouse. But the question remains: Where do we go from here?
Life is just one ‘Where do we go from here?’ after another. For example, after long months of incubation, somewhere a tiny new baby will be born into a family. But too soon the empty nest becomes a reality with kids off to college, Iraq or an adult lifestyle. The warmth of summer has dwindled away and the reality of the cold weather of winter is upon us. And we ask, where do we go from here?
Some folks will get tired of their vocations, fired from their jobs or promoted to different positions. All this while the stock market is shaky and the holiday season is approaching. No wonder we ask, where do we go from here?
A spouse dies, it’s time for retirement or a parent enters the nursing home. A loved one leaves or a new one arrives. The housing market has tanked so don’t even think of selling your house.
Alas, where do we go from here?
We ask ourselves in so many ways nearly every day, ‘Where do we go from here?’ The worry is that one day it will appear too much of a burden to ask and we will just drift into whatever shows up on our doorstep. It is such a temptation in changing and troubling times to just curl up in a familiar, warm, safe place and hope we will somehow end up where we had always hoped we would.
I suppose the asking of the question is the surest sign that we might eventually land in a spot in life that fits us well with our unique skills, preferences and needs. The great spiritual mystic, philosopher and poet Celaleddin Rumi wrote in the 13th century, ‘Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.’
We don’t have to wait for a big defining event to ask ourselves such questions. Every day in small ways we can stop amidst the onslaught of pressing times and cease to be merely responders to what confronts us. We can drive the agenda of our lives by pondering the question, ‘Where do we go from here?’ We do have choices. Can we take risks? Will we enter into uncharted waters with purpose that justifies the expenditure of energy? Are we brave enough to look into the mirror and ask ourselves why we procrastinate, give up on our hopes or just follow the lead of yesterday?
It is interesting and fortifying as a widow to speak with others who have gone through a sudden loss of most of what they knew as the familiar and loved. Some folks just can’t face thinking about a new form their life will take. They sort of put themselves on hold, as in a long nap, until they too depart this earth. Others stiffen up and keep their feet going ahead until they can get their breath and a new perspective on themselves and the different world around them.
Our nation, much as a widow or divorcee, has suffered many losses recently: moral authority in the world, financial stability, international academic standing, military position and our role as the leader in innovation. Do we have the courage and faith to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask with honesty, ‘Where do we go from here?’
This could be our moment for an historic surge of energy and transformation. During the recent political campaigns, millions of citizens who had heretofore taken only a minimal part in the electoral process became very involved. They entered the issues debate, advocated for civic causes or candidates, and dedicated hard-earned cash and time. Progress does take more than thinking and discussion. It takes decisions and action.
Our country was founded and formed by brave and visionary citizens. They may look heroic and pleasant in the history books, but I would guess they had some rough talks with themselves and their fellow journeymen every day. It is easy to read the documents they wrote or retrace the paths they took and think they made the obvious choices at the time. Not so, I believe. For every idea or plan that became our history, there must have been hundreds of options presented. And our forefathers didn’t get it right at first all of the time. They cared enough, were prepared enough and envisioned a future worth going out on a limb to achieve. We are there ourselves now.
During times of change and uncertainty, new ways are sought. It is the hour for our town, our families and we as individuals to use those innovative and creative juices we have and chart an exciting and productive future. Boredom isn’t stimulating. Meaningless work isn’t fun and a sense of hopelessness is futile.
Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s get up mentally, physically and spiritually and ask ourselves, ‘Where do we go from here?’

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