October 23, 2012

When You Are at the Darkest Point in the Forest, You Are on the Right Track.

“You enter the forest
at the darkest point,
where there is no path.

Where there is a way or path,
it is someone else’s path.

You are not on your own path.

If you follow someone else’s way,
you are not going to realize
your potential.”

~ Joseph Campbell

I used to look around at everything, quietly taking it all in, measuring myself to see where I’d fit or where I’d fallen short.

We all do this at some point. We have that bright spot in us until about seven or eight when we start becoming more self-aware, stop believing in fairy tales and start to measure. And for many, the measuring never stops.

Am I making enough money? Is my job title important? Am I married with 2.5 kids? Do I have it? Do I measure up? Am I on the right path? Am I on the path that people “expect” me to be on? Do I have all the right things?

And we measure and measure the things that don’t matter and waste all the days that could have been marvelous adventures if we’d left our measuring stick behind and instead grabbed a sword to cut a path through the pathless woods.

I was talking with a friend this weekend about Joseph Campbell, and Abraham Maslow, and how what Campbell tapped into that Maslow missed with his hierarchy of needs was that people need not just to feel secure—but to feel alive! We can tell ourselves that our paycheck is important or our car is important…all those details that make us feel “secure” are necessary. But what good is any of that if the hero inside us lies dormant? Maslow missed the fact that people need to feel alive. The purpose of life is what we bring to it:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” ~ Joseph Campbell

Let’s stop measuring our lives in inches closer to the finish line.

Lose count of all that and instead, measure our yeses.

Keep track of the scars we have from last minute leaps.

Close the book and put away the list of things we thing we should do, we ought to have or everyone else is doing and do the things we must do.

Let’s take leave of the well-worn path and careful plans—and live.


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