Familiarity gets a bad rap because it always seems to be linked to the idea that it breeds contempt. I agree that if one nestles into the comfort of all that is familiar, the air gets stale .... life becomes banal. Too common .... too routine and life begins to feel threadbare worn. However if one is going through many changes and they trip up against one another, a sprinkling of familiarity helps maintain the confidence to gingerly take the necessary steps through the transition process. Of course, it has to be the good pace of familiar and not the bad tasting remnants of the past. And when its good, it feels like slipping back into a canoe knowing how to find my balance........while I take the first few strokes.
Humans have a tendancy of holding onto what they know even if it is toxic rather than letting go and moving on. We lose our nerve to take a risk on something new, fresh and perhaps unknown even when we are pushed off the cliff without our approval. Change shakes and shatters. It has the capability of rocking our foundations like an earthquake can split the ground open.
Change is the humanquake.......leaving us feeling splintered and split until we can regroup, reflect and respect the fact that life spins forward on an axis we often have no control over. Familiar traditions, the stories, their history, and the multitude of experiences we have had to live through all act as a way of grounding in order to cope with the changes. Transitions, the internal process leading to transformation, are helped along if there are familiar threads which reassure the person of their own wholeness.
I guess it comes down to how we utilize familiarity that matters. If we allow ourselves to be pulled into the timeworn comfort of it ... fearful of change, fearful of taking a risk, we will remain stuck and asleep as life passes by. To me, this seems comparable to choosing death instead of living. Boredom is a tranquilizer. On the other hand, we can summon our resources and resiliency when faced with change. If we see the possiblities that transitions are spiritually and emotionally transformative and can lead to tremendous growth, we can expand our learning experience by bringing along our own basket of familiar gifts and knowledge.
Today, I found myself pondering this as I realized I was in a new work setting and on a new team with no clear picture yet of where I will fit in ..... but was clearly not in a completely foreign territory. The type of work is an extension of what I have done in the past, though in a different milieu. Many of the faces are people I have worked with in the past though in different scenarios. Both helped.... a lot. The "newness" of the situation coupled with the jolt of being thrown into the change are buffered by the positive reinforcement of familiarity. Whether I feel a sense of transformative growth in this environment is still unknown. But, what I do feel will happen is that I will eventually find my place of belonging as I learn the ropes.
And if all else fails? If familiarity begins to choke in contempt or if the changes just don't turn my crank and the awareness gleaned through the transition isn't what it appears to be? Then I can get back in that well travelled canoe and paddle on. There are always new inlets to discover.