Paths

For April, I thought I would explore and reflect on the paths we take; some by choice, others less intentionally.    

The reality is we are all on a journey – the journeys represented by our behaviors and actions in the world and  – an inner journey of self-awareness.  What is going on in the outer world, is reflected in our inner world and vice versa.  We leave a place, a relationship, we change our job, we grow older and take on numerous responsibilities.  As this is happening, there is a call to understand ourselves at a deeper level. We have questions about our choices, our friendships, our interests.

These kinds of questions can be unsettling and equally if we allow for this, exciting.  No matter that we think we know how to get somewhere and can see the endpoint, we don’t. No matter how much we think we know, we don’t.  No matter how secure we may feel in a moment, the next moment will change all of that.

In my early 20’s I took some time to travel.  I left England, travelled through Europe, into Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia and then home to England.  The trip lasted six months.  In my travels, I met the warmth of strangers, was immersed in landscapes of beauty and harshness, saw cruelty firsthand, and at times found myself in situations of danger.  As a result, my understanding of the world expanded, as did witnessing reality. 

On my return, I found myself unsettled, even to the point of not being able to sleep in a bed, preferring the floor for a while.

I found all of those things that had anchored me previously – a serious relationship, family, old friends, places, work, seemed out of focus.  I had lost my compass, my bearings.  I would like to say that at this point, my life changed in some way.  It didn’t.  Very soon, the reality of looking after myself and earning an income became a necessary focus.    

But, unknowingly, under the surface, a path was opening.  Replicated by my travels, I was searching.  A tug, a desire to explore and understand myself not tethered by custom, race, or gender, nor indeed by the external environment.

One of the paths that opened, was the practice of mindfulness meditation.  A solo journey undertaken, without a defined ending. 

This became a practice of intimacy, of familiarity, and a desire to be a part of something, that initially I could only catch glimmers of.  A turning towards myself and into openness.  

This path is now many years long.  It is a path of joy and contentment and one that touches woundedness and vulnerability.  It is a walk into the many acts of betrayal.  To know them and to feel a heart that has experienced the deep wound of brokenness.  It is to hold this wounded heart with compassion and to understand the need we all have to be accepted, to be loved, to be seen and heard, to be connected, and to be forgiven. It is to feel the softness of imperfection. 

It is to wonder how did I get here? And in that acknowledgement, to breathe into the next step along the path, moving with the moment.  

An excerpt from a poem by David Whyte - Santiago
 
The road seen, then not seen, the hillside
 hiding then revealing the way you should take,
 the road dropping away from you as if leaving you
 to walk in thin air, then catching you, holding you up,
 when you thought you would fall,
 and the way forward always in the end 
 the way that you followed, the way that carried you
 into your future, that brought you to this place, 
 no matter that it sometimes took your promise from you,
 no matter that it had to break your heart along the way: 

What path is calling you?  

The valley, river and mountains