Each one of us is on our own personal journey through life. There are many small journeys too, each one leading to the next as we come to each fork in the road. With every decision we learn, grow and advance one step at a time. What parts or your life bring you back “home” to your true self? What activities return you to your center where you feel balanced and at ease?
The long journey provides the full range of experiences and emotions, success and failure, elation and disappointment, happiness and sadness, joy and anger, strength and weakness. We have access to the full spectrum of life’s positive and negative offerings. I tend to get a little philosophical thinking about the end of the journey, but to me, that’s the whole point!
The short journeys all have a purpose too. I love the idea that each step we take along the path teaches us something about ourselves so that we can continue on to the next. Sometimes those short journeys result in success and confidence. Other times they result in learning and growth opportunities.
I was just talking with an adolescent yesterday who had discovered that “Everything is changing!” What a great conversation that was. While change may seem constant and everywhere we turn in the teen years, it’s still there as an adult. We have just learned to accept it a little more, and many of us have changed our perspective on change.
There’s nothing we can do to stop change, it’s a part of life. And with each change comes an opportunity for growth. We don’t always grow in the same direction, but that’s part of the fun of learning more about ourselves every day.
We meet people who compliment us, challenge us, and those who go against our morals. Do they bring out the kind of person we want to be or influence us to be someone we don't like? We get to determine our response to having these people in our lives and grow accordingly.
Along the journeys we travel, we find that some things we felt strongly about before don’t have the same effect on us and that other things may have taken their place, or perhaps enhanced earlier ones. We may have found new interests, new causes we believe in or new hobbies. Some people change jobs, friends, relationships or lifestyles. Other people refresh old ones they discovered were a better match to their true selves.
With the vast amount of things to discover along the way, we are able to experience so much of what life has to offer. Maybe it’s a new culture, food, science, art, music, or how to catch lightning bugs. Making these discoveries is how we learn about what we’re interested in, passionate about or how we want to live our lives.
We all have our desired end-game in mind as we maneuver through our days; a different job, a relationship, family, career, travel. Some of us want to maintain what we currently have. In either case, it takes some intention and effort to accomplish either choice. We never truly “arrive” to where we set our course. Throughout life, we go through a series of constant adjustments to either make a change or maintain balance.
As we travel life’s path we become more confident because of our experiences. As we get older what was once self-doubt often turns to self-compassion. Some of us learn that the way we pushed ourselves to do something went against what really mattered to us. Or, some of us may learn that we didn’t put enough of ourselves into a goal or desire in order to make it happen.
Some find their own faith, some turn away from it. Some discover their purpose, some question it. Some follow their own hearts, some follow the hearts of others. Some get overwhelmed by obstacles or failure, some learn from them. And these reactions often change along the path. Whatever our experiences are, I believe that they are all there for a reason; to teach us something about ourselves.
I haven’t heard of a straight and direct path through life. Most of us take many twists and turns, ups and downs, and have our share of going around, over and through our challenges. Perhaps we don’t learn a lesson the first time. We’re likely to encounter that lesson again later on down the path. But that’s okay. Life is not a race. In the end, all of our experiences work together to make us who we are.
For me, I’m grateful for all that I have experienced, and that which awaits me in the future. Even the negative, sad, painful experiences have a role in who I am evolving into. I have been able to take stock of the things I like about myself and the things I want to change along the way. Every decision and experience has played a role in who I am at this moment. And that’s pretty amazing.
Listen to your heart. Enjoy the journey. Spread the joy.