Darbella’s Articles — Memoirs of a Phaser, part 5

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Meeting Yourself on the Path of Life

We had a peri­od of silence while at Phase One at Haven. I went for a very long walk. Walk­ing is an activ­i­ty I love to do and I was curi­ous to see more of the island. I head­ed down the south road and chose to take a road across the mid­dle of the island instead of doing the long route around or turn­ing back. This choice hap­pened to involve climb­ing a very big hill. By this time in my walk, I was feel­ing very present and alive.

As I climbed the hill, I was con­scious of how much this activ­i­ty was a metaphor for my life jour­ney. There were many choic­es of which way to go. I could have gone around the island. I could have turned back. I chose to go up the big hill. All of these choic­es lead to the same des­ti­na­tion and pro­vid­ed dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences along the way. This des­ti­na­tion is not an end point in the jour­ney. It was only a stop­ping place until I chose to con­tin­ue the jour­ney in a dif­fer­ent direction. 

For many years, I have focused on the end des­ti­na­tion and the trip as some­thing to endure until the final des­ti­na­tion has been reached. My learn­ing at Haven demon­strat­ed that it is in the expe­ri­ences along the jour­ney where the real learn­ing takes place. In my con­nec­tions with oth­ers along the way, I am able to learn about myself.

While I walked, I noticed that I kept my map tight­ly clenched in my hand and con­stant­ly checked my loca­tion. I want­ed a clear pic­ture of where I was going and I often scanned my sur­round­ings to see if they matched the map I had in my hand. This is so true of the way I am in life. I always want a plan. I plan things care­ful­ly before head­ing off. I con­sid­er all my options and choose the one I think is best. I like a plan or a map so I know where I am going. I refer con­stant­ly to this plan and check whether it still makes sense for me. I am will­ing to change it for anoth­er plan. I would not want to head in any unfa­mil­iar direc­tion with­out a plan in hand.

Some­times walk­ing my cho­sen path was hard work. It was a very large hill in the mid­dle of the island. I con­cen­trat­ed, step-by-step. I chose not to look at the top of the hill but set short­er reach­able goals and placed my focus there. Some­times the climb seemed so big, I could only focus on each step indi­vid­u­al­ly. My life has had times when I could not see my way through to the end of some­thing. Break­ing a larg­er task or dif­fi­cul­ty down into man­age­able chunks and con­cen­trat­ing on one chunk at a time has allowed me to move through those times.

At times while I was climb­ing, I became tired and chose to sit and rest. At one point, I even lay down with my head on my knap­sack and slept on the side of the road. Some­times in my life, I need to take care of myself and take a break. I don’t need to keep busy all the time. Opt­ing out of the roles I have cre­at­ed in my life and doing some­thing for me helps cre­ate renewed ener­gy to keep mov­ing on. It can be a time when I can sort through the load I am car­ry­ing and choose to leave part of the load (which I so will­ing­ly chose to accept) behind.

Walk­ing back­wards pro­vid­ed anoth­er metaphor for life. When I chose to look at where I had come from, I could see how far I had come. I felt a sense of pride and accom­plish­ment that I had come so far and done so much. This is a strat­e­gy that I have learned to use in the past few months of my life. As I wrote last week, my ten­den­cy is to “awfulize” a sit­u­a­tion that is about to hap­pen. When I become aware that I am doing this, I have learned to stop myself and focus on the things I have accom­plished. This is like look­ing back­wards down the hill to see how far I have already come, rather than look­ing at the top of the hills and “awfuliz­ing” the size of the rest of the climb.

Look­ing back­wards also gave me a glimpse of the big­ger pic­ture. At one point the view was spec­tac­u­lar. I could see the moun­tains. I could see the ocean. I could see the expan­sive forests. I could see the beau­ti­ful blue sky. I could see the fac­to­ry pump­ing smoke into the air. This view gave me a whole new per­spec­tive of the island. This, too, is like my life. At times, I want to stop and look at the big pic­ture of my life and reflect on what I see. Does this pic­ture work for me at this point in my life? What part of it works? What parts might need oth­er choices? 

Like the beau­ti­ful scene in front of me, I like what I see in my life at the present time. AND, the whole pic­ture is not ruined just because that fac­to­ry is there pump­ing smoke into the air. I could have focused on the ugli­ness of it and total­ly missed the beau­ty of the rest of the pic­ture — just like life. When I focus on the smok­ing fac­to­ry in my life, I am obsess­ing on all the “shoulds” of what I could have done. How much bet­ter it is to notice the “smok­ing fac­to­ry of shoulds” and focus main­ly on the beau­ti­ful scene of accom­plish­ments. I’d nev­er give up the smok­ing fac­to­ry in the pic­ture of my life. There is much learn­ing for me there. How­ev­er, I will not allow it to take over my pic­ture and ruin the spec­tac­u­lar scenery.

The road has twists and turns as I climbed the hill. At times I could see fur­ther ahead than I could at oth­er times. When I could see more of the road I had cho­sen to climb. I had a clear­er sense of where I was going and how the scenery was chang­ing. When I reached the top of the hill, I coast­ed on a flat road for awhile and then the scenery real­ly changed. I was in a whole new place. The road became grav­el. My view was blocked when a car went by and the dust filled the air. The for­est changed and I was in the mid­dle of it for awhile. In this place, the sounds changed and noth­ing was famil­iar. I then reached the oth­er side of this sec­tion and found more famil­iar island land­scape, a paved road and less dust. 

Again, I could eas­i­ly relate this new expe­ri­ence of my walk to my life. I have expe­ri­enced the changes of scenery, where every­thing seemed unfa­mil­iar and new for awhile. I have expe­ri­enced the dust fill­ing the air and feel­ing lost and alone in that place. I have also noticed, as I keep mov­ing through these expe­ri­ences, the land­scape becomes famil­iar again.

When I was walk­ing through the forests on the dusty hill, the road was nar­row­er and I had to watch for cars. There was also the dan­ger of rocks being thrown by car tires as they passed. There was also the dust — it was not pleas­ant to breathe. I then noticed signs, as I was walk­ing through this area, about a shoot­ing range near­by. I reflect­ed at this point of my walk about the dan­gers around us when we choose not to be present in our life. Notic­ing things like cars and shoot­ing ranges help keep us safe in life and to notice these things, we must stay present. They are not dan­gers when I am aware of them around me. It was easy to avoid cars and to choose not to walk into the for­est near a shoot­ing range. Just like my life — where many of the pit­falls I have found myself caught in could be avoid­ed — all I need do is pay atten­tion and stay present.

The best part of this “life­walk,” which I expe­ri­enced in many dif­fer­ent ways, was know­ing that there were friends at the end to share this expe­ri­ence with. I walked this path alone, with a sense of know­ing that there were peo­ple I car­ried with me in my heart, and while they were not with me phys­i­cal­ly in the moment, we would meet again in the future. At that time, I could share my expe­ri­ence and hear of theirs. I had a new sense of con­fi­dence of the pres­ence of oth­ers in my life and less of a sense of the iso­la­tion that was so famil­iar to me from the past.

A favourite ques­tion of one of the lead­ers was — “Where did you meet your­self on the path of life today?” In my jour­ney of silence, I met myself again and again and I liked who I found. In that place, I was aware on an infi­nite num­ber of choic­es and beau­ti­ful mem­o­ries of con­nec­tions with peo­ple. In those con­nec­tions, there have been many learn­ings about me. I now include many peo­ple in my trea­sures of my life.

Take a moment and reflect on your path in life at the present time. Does this pic­ture work for you at this point in your life? What part of it works? What parts ask you to look for oth­er choic­es? Where are your fac­to­ries? How big have you cho­sen to let them be? Where have you met your­self walk­ing on the path of life? Do you like what you see? You are in charge of the pic­ture. It is all up to you.

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