“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” ~ Rumi
I remember the first time I went to Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado. At first, I wasn’t sure what Molly, my two year old puppy, and I would find once we got there. It was a hot summer’s day and the crowded parking lot told me that we were not about to do this hike alone.
Molly, ever the one that wanted to run off to see what could be found, was a handful to contain. The park is a vast playground for dogs and humans alike. As we started off, we soon found that we had a choice of trails to take and I liked the one that seemed to be the less traveled.
Quickly we discovered why it was less traveled.
The beginning stretch was long—baking in the sun—and all up hill. Somewhere near the end my four legged friend turned to look at me as she was asking me what was I thinking. The only thing I could do was just keep moving.
As we continued on, finding some shade thankfully, I turned around to see a sight that simply made me stop in amazement. It wasn’t just the view of the valley from another perspective but it was the silence of solitude, on this lesser travelled path that made the difficult effort worth it all.
John O’Donohue, in his book Eternal Echoes, writes:
“When you open your heart to discovery, you will be called to step outside the comfort barriers within which you have fortified your life. You will be called to risk old views and thoughts and to step off the circle of routine and image. This will often bring turbulence.”
Many times we sit in a coffee shop or in the solitude of our homes pondering over what our lives have been like. Some of us have had amazing lives—we have traveled to faraway lands—we have held in our arms the warmth of a small baby—we have been present when a child has read their very first sentence.
Yet, we still search for more.
Maybe it because our souls are used to change and dare to risk the experience of the unknown. Others of us look back and wonder what if we had taken a step that seemed out of character, because our character has always been used to playing it safely with life.
However, I think that our world needs both but we need more.
The great mystic, Rumi, asks us a very poignant question: “When will we begin that long journey of discovering ourselves?”
This simple question elicits many thoughts and emotions. It is okay to be fearful when beginning the search for who we are and what we want to do in this gift called life.
It is okay to get angry when life seems to be a struggle or even when it is going very well or when we get a notice from the doctor with bad news. It is okay to have sweaty palms before you walk down the aisle or to make a life commitment with another person.
It is okay to smile and to receive the gift of recognition.
It is okay to fall in love. It is okay to stop every once in a while to look back at the path that has helped you to see where you have come from and in the process grown as a person. It is okay to feel the exhilaration of daring to go somewhere or to do something that you would have never imagine going to or doing.
It is okay to shed a tear of happiness over the joys of life—or to laugh so hard that your sides hurt.
We often times dare not because we are afraid of failing. However, when we fail to act we fail to discover a part of ourselves that is hidden away in a place that can only be unlocked by the key of risk. Other times we dare not because we want the instant sense of accomplishment.
I think that Rumi used the word “long” for a purpose. Many times the effort takes longer than the act itself. How many times have we prepared for a major event then when the event gets here we discover that the moment went faster than we had hoped it would?
Sometimes, we are reluctant to seek out our inner self because we are afraid of change.
Change is hard work.
Change is painful and not always enjoyable. If change came easily or without turbulence, then we have to question whether or not it was change. If we go to the gym and never get sore or sweat, we will not see the changes that we truly want.
For a cell to grow it must be divided.
So, maybe we struggle with growth because we are attached to people that do not want change. Maybe we are addicted to a lifestyle that wraps the metal shackle around our spirit that yearns to be free from a slavery of an unhealthy life.
John O’Donohue continues to write: “But your soul loves the danger of growth.”
As I ascended to the top of a Flatiron, I faced my fear of heights. It was at this point that I had to let go of Molly for the first time and little did I know at that time that facing an even greater fear later the next year I would have to let her go again but for the last time.
Many times we look at life and see the opportunities to change right in front of our “faces.” We cling to a rock’s stony flesh and fear that we will fall. We walk the precipice’s precarious edge wonder if we can keep our balance.
It is then as we take the next step we discover something new.
What are some of the dreams that we hold on to so tightly that we are afraid to let go and allow them freedom to become a reality? Do we meet the face of those in need and wish we could do more? Do we know deep within ourselves that we have a gift but we are afraid to unwrap it because of the fear it may get broken while we use it?
We all have the opportunity to live a life that dares us to do more and as Ralph Ellison writes:
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Todd Otten / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Elephant Archives