Establishment

There’s a method for exploration that I’ve found works pretty well for how I think, how I learn, and my relative energy and comfort levels when it comes to the unknown.

I’ve developed this method over the decade-plus I’ve been traveling full-time, setting up home bases in new, unfamiliar places, and generally doing my best to get set up—in the sense that I could feel at home in a new place relatively quickly and efficiently, without glazing over too many important things in the process—with the minimum amount of stress.

This method orients around mapping out plots of familiarity, methodically extending outward, making the time and setting aside the psychological and physical energy required to pay attention to my environment, and to then slowly but steadfastly increase the span and scope and depth of my comfort zone.

Many of us have been going through this type of process, I think, over the course of the past year-and-a-half-ish.

We were all one day plopped down into confusing professional and political and epistemologic geographies, and had to plot out new, safe-feeling, home-scented territory within which we could just exhale; within which we could take off our masks and feel like we maybe understood something that was happening around us, even if only for a few moments at a time.

Unfamiliar spaces turn our biological, data-gathering dials up to 11.

Our bodies and brains appreciate the mundane because within such contexts they can relax a bit: the threats and opportunities are familiar and thus comparably easy to track.

In novel environments, however, the torrent of new information can be interesting and invigorating, but it can also be exhausting.

It’s just a lot to parse. It’s a lot of sensory information to wade through. It’s a lot of bewildering impressions and micro-interactions to worry about.

It’s a lot.

We’re all at different stages, now, after having been, a while back, unceremoniously deposited into a new reality with new rules and new perils and new strangely compelling “maybes,” jumbled together with all the new menaces and headaches and absolute tragedies.

There’s no single, correct way to deal with this flavor of unfamiliarity, but it’s heartening to consider that—even as we plod along, feeling like we’re not quite aligned or a little bit behind or manifesting as mere human-shaped apparitions in a world that’s rapidly crystalizing around us—our current disorientation is a step on the path toward establishing a new, us-shaped anchorage.

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