I love Union Square Park. I’ve always felt so gloriously alone there; so secure in my anonymity. It welcomed my thoughts, stillness, and uncertainties. When I spent six months living in Manhattan, the park was a place for me to reflect. I watched streams of New Yorkers move through the space, unconcerned with one another save for the times in which interruption – or potential interruption – united our human interest in each other.
When I recall standing in the park, looking around, Paul’s words in Ephesians: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (KJV) come to mind. The word ‘circumspection,’ is an intriguing choice. Paul uses it not as a descriptor, but as a way of being. Though defined as a quality of wariness or prudence, for me circumspection connotes curiosity, earnestness and humility. It’s a consideration of life that says, “Wow!” and asks “What now?”
So, where do those questions take me? I often say, “Wow” to everything I’ve been able to see and do. But, the question of, “What now?” is bigger. Bigger because I am 23 and I’ve moved four times in the last year and a half. Bigger because I’ve spent the last four years trying to live with uncertainty. Bigger because in a world where I am told I can do anything, I don’t know what I want. I want all the time in the world to consider and explore my options. It is the puzzling urgency of choosing that makes me consider the wisdom of Paul’s counsel.
Perhaps the wisdom lies in the contrast of opposites: the fool and the wise. To walk wisely would be to consider my options with curiosity at their newness, earnestness at their potential and inquisitive humility regarding how much I still have to learn. Walking foolishly would be leaving my life unexamined, focusing only on what I want out of life.
Considering we all want some direction or clarity in our lives, wisdom seems the best road. Though not as clear as: choose A or B, walking circumspectly is considering choices in light of present, past and future. It is our curiosity that makes the future less scary. Our earnestness drives our present. Our humility helps us understand our past.
The invitation is how are we circumspectly examining our lives? Whether you’re in a new place or between places, where can you walk circumspectly? My own response is thinking on place. What I am puzzling is, how has my inhabiting of other places influenced my ability to inhabit new ones?
The environment of Union Square Park served as a physical place for me to reflect and consider. What places exist for you? Perhaps the wisdom in circumspection includes orienting our physical bodies in a way that centers our minds and hearts to reflect well.
I am still looking for that place as I spend a season at home with my parents. I want to continue practicing circumspection, understanding my choices and seeking wisdom. May you find spaces to welcome your thoughts and seek questions to guide you as you orbit the many complexities of your own life.
Katherine Kwong is an audio and narrative content creator based in Ventura County, CA. She enjoys 99% Invisible, The 13th Doctor and good places for watercolor painting. pc: the author