Yesterday evening, feeling philosophical about the New Year, I went for a stroll up the country lane outside my little country house. As I stopped to take the picture above, something popped into my head.
sometimes in life the paths we end up taking—which we may never have purposefully chosen for ourselves—end up being the best ones.
Fairly often in life, things don’t work out as we imagine they ought to. I’m pretty sure you will have experienced this phenomenon about as often as I have.
As an example, this year I meant to send at least a monthly email newsletter, and to write regularly on this blog (!)
Things didn’t work out as I imagined they ought to.
The thing is, one ‘failed’ plan made space for myriad other beautiful life events to blossom. I have landed, not one, but two book deals, each of which are due out in 2018 (stay tuned!). I also submitted an 80k word PhD thesis. I feel more potently creative and masterful at my craft than I ever have before.
This year, I also tried to keep my relationship alive.
Again, Things didn’t work out as I imagined they ought to.
Yet, alongside this ostensive ‘failure’, my personal life continued to grow fit-to-burst with love. My niece was born and I fell head over heels for her tiny, astonishing aura. My friendships continued to deepen so that I feel, more than ever, that I am suspended in a shimmering web of the most beautiful souls I could ever possibly have hoped to know. I also got to know myself a whole lot better in the midst of crisis (funny how it often takes crisis for that to happen, haven’t you found?)
Dear one, what I really want to say is this: the road we are on is long.
It’s a road that’s proverbially bumpy, winding, and overgrowing with as many hindrances as it is lined with intensely beautiful scenery. Nevertheless, it’s always the road we are on.
Sometimes, we kid ourselves that we can cease to be on our old lumpy bumpy country road. That we can stop the car, scribble out a new sign pointing off on a tangent, and build a speedy highway to our goals, completely from scratch. But we can’t. If we ever think we are doing that… Well, let’s just say my experience tells me that we will swiftly find ourselves diverted back to our original road. Knee deep in old habits we never faced head on. Haunted with that sense of lack. Feeling unfulfilled. Feeling that we haven’t achieved all that we meant to.
But this is not to say we are stuck on our old familiar road. Oh no. Because the nature of roads, of course, is that they take us places. Our road stretches out far beyond sight—to places we couldn’t possibly imagine, even if we tried. Yet too rarely do we accept this.
Too rarely do we ask: ‘where might this road be taking me?’
Too often we insist: ‘this road is taking me THERE’ as we point obstinately at our goal on The Map of What We Want. (Side note: sometimes what we want is an utter surprise, even to ourselves.)
We lose when we simply point on the map of life like this.
We lose because we fail to behold the truth and beauty in being exactly here—where we are—on our old familiar stretch. We cease to savour the scenery.
We lose because we forget to compassionately acknowledge where we have come from—we refuse to slow down, to reach out of the window, to catch the snowflake of experience on our outstretched palm… Instead, we rush ahead like a snowplough, utterly blinkered to any subtlety, surprise, or serendipity.
I know you’ll have been told before to ‘love the journey’ but, seriously, people, love that journey—that road. Love it hard. It’s yours. It’s happening. You’re on it. It may be challenging. It may not look the way we think it ought to. But by gum is it also thrilling and surprising and astronomically, unfathomably beautiful in all its contradictions.