We are all familiar with the thematic metaphor of life as a journey. All of us are walking an unfamiliar path toward an uncertain future. That does not mean we have no influence on our futures. At one time, I used to believe in destiny, one in which I had little choice or input. That belief obviated me from any personal responsibility for my actions or for what happened to me as a consequence of my actions.
Living under those circumstances required little effort on my part because whatever was to happen was going to happen. I was just along for the ride. These notions were insidiously alluring.
Personal tragedy caused my belief system to change. It had to, if I were to gain any measure of control over my life which seemed completely out of my control. I say ‘seemed’ because such was my belief system.
However, believing I had no control was a choice from the outset. Therefore, I was always in control. I chose to believe that way because I didn’t feel I deserved any better. But, that is a story for another time.
As I said, my belief system changed. Oh, I still believe in destiny, just not in the same way. I believe we can seek out our own destiny or, at the very least, have the greatest influence on our own destiny if we choose.
If life is a journey then we are all on a particular path, paths with many branches, dead ends, switchbacks, descents, ascensions, and barriers both real and perceived. Through 60 years of living I have learned several truths about the paths we walk.
• Truth #1. It took me a long time to come to this first absolute, and in my case, sobering truth. I get to decide on which path I will walk. I choose the path. The path does not choose me. No one decides for me, not without my permission. No one decides for you on which path you will walk. We all choose for ourselves.
• Truth #2. You can just stand on your path and refuse to budge, but you will advance anyway. Times arrow points in but one direction – forward. If you do not move forward, time will sweep you and the path on which you stand forward on into the future, with or without your permission. It is best to have some say in which direction forward your are headed.
• Truth #3. Our time here is limited. If you haven’t fulfilled your earthly purpose, you must begin your search now. If you are searching for your earthly purpose but haven’t yet found it, just keep searching. It may be just around the next bend just up ahead. If you have found your earthly purpose you are on the right path, the one which is true for you.
• Truth #4. If you run up on an obstacle or barrier to your progress, you must remove it or find a way over, under, or around it. No one will do this for you, at least not for very long. Those who may stop to help you will ultimately give in to their own concerns at some point and leave to continue their own journey. Don’t hold them back. That is not your purpose.
• Truth #5. Although some may seem closed, all paths are open. They all begin from where you are, where you stand. They branch out in every direction without limit. They are constantly changing and refreshing in front of you. Don’t forget to look up. There are paths there too.
• Truth #6. People will come in and out of our lives as we walk our path. Our paths may cross, overlap or parallel one another for a little while, but they will never be the same. No one will journey with us at all times, nor will we journey with them for all times.
• Truth #7. Your journey will never provide all that you want but will always provide all of your needs, if you accept them. The needs which are provided may come disguised as mistakes, failure, struggle, loss and hardship. Sometimes, so too will rewards.
• Truth #8. This is the most startling and astonishing one of them all. If all paths lead away from you in all directions, then they must also lead to you from all directions. To me, this is profound. Although we walk different paths, they are all connected. Be open to opportunities. They will come to you every day from many different directions. Most will be difficult to recognize. At all times, be aware.
It is both exciting and comforting to me that I can influence the final outcome of my journey by the paths I choose and the decisions I make along the way. So can you. So should you. What a gift.
Do you feel you are in control of the path you are on, your journey? Do you know where you are headed? Do you wish for a change in direction?
Originally Published on Clark Gaither
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