If life is a journey, then where are we headed? Once we get a sense of where we would like that to be, it is a matter of figuring out how to get there, which road to take, and how to prepare the way. I like to compare life to a journey. Billions of people live on this planet, and no two have traveled the same journey. I suspect that is why we say, ‘don’t judge another till you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. ’
Pondering that great metaphor of life’s journey, I see the bigger picture as an actual individually created map. It is so easy to say we are heading for great things, searching for success, happiness, survival, peace, career satisfaction, love/relationships and redemption, but none of that can happen without choices along the way. Every day we are faced with choices, every day is a journey, every day we must stop at the crossing or the fork in the road, and listen for that inner voice telling us which way to go. Choices may feel right in this moment, but may feel like a mistake tomorrow. I believe that the only mistakes in life are the risks not taken or the roads un-traveled. Sometimes we may wish the u-turn sign would have come sooner but I always believe that “if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. "
The roads less traveled might be those of forgiveness, acceptance, patience, kindness, honesty, humility or generosity. It is so much easier to take the straight, smooth, wide and safe road, the one easier traveled, the one everyone else is taking. Most of us live in fear of what may lie ahead, who will meet, and how will we handle the obstacles along the way. Most roads will have twists, turns, roadblocks, bridges, potholes, upwards climbs, downward spirals, signs to follow, and other people traveling along side. We are the sum of all our fears!
The biggest challenge on this path may be the willingness to shift gears, up or down for changing routes. Maybe it is about shifting our thoughts and beliefs at each stage or crossroad on this journey. It is a matter of not getting stuck at each roadblock, but having patience and faith that the best is yet to come. It is about becoming a ‘bridge builder’ along the way to help your neighbor get to the other side and it is about slowing down for the sharp turns and twists so that you can remember where you’ve been as well as where you are going. Life is not a race, but a journey where each moment should be savored.
We cannot live this life looking back and wondering if the other trail would have been better, we cannot do it all, travel all the roads, or be everywhere. To keep switching paths is what over-commitment is. That can leave us as overwhelmed, weary and unfulfilled at the destination as procrastination or the road never taken.
Robert Frost wrote, “two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. " Socrates said it best with his motto ‘know thyself, and to thine self be true. ’ At some point along this journey, one must begin the quest to find a true sense of self. Otherwise, how can we ever find our true calling? Living with a false sense of self, living to please everyone around us, or living outside of self, will only prolong true inner happiness.
Maybe it would be worth giving some thought to whether we would like to become bridge-builders along This Journey Called ‘Life’. That would mean being a team player, supporting and encouraging our fellow travelers, being role models, unselfishly helping those who have helped us on our route. It would mean doing all that, not for personal gain, but just because that is who we really are or who we really want to be. In order to leave this world a better place than we found it, we can all strive to build our bridges out of love and respect, and allow the waters of greed, unforgiveness, gossip, selfishness, hatred, deceit, self-pity, self-righteousness and disrespect to run below. It’s all up to you and me; to choose our route wisely.