This post came about after reading a handful of bloggers projecting dispirate takes on their lives, specific to the topic of being on the right the path with life choices. I found clarity and optimism on one end of the spectrum, gloom and despair on the other. Reading in succession, I wanted to keep one hand open to divvy out high fives and fist bumps, the other hand free to swing around shoulders of the forlorn like Baymax from Big Hero 6 and whisper, “There, there…”
Caveat, though, whenever I do the Baymax bit at home with my future wife, I usually get a playful punch in the arm or elbow in the chest. Such is our shtick. We’re comfy inside our goofball skins. It took us much of our lives to be together following long paths filled with adversity. Between us, we’ve seen and done just about everything, and thus we seized the moment, hand-in-hand, when our paths as longtime friends cleared of its suppressive debris. What opened before us upon re-meeting later in life was a merged, linear road which became so easy to take together. There, there, and beyond…
Plotting one’s life course contains one-half uncertainty and unpredictability, the other half, risk. Life is very much a business model. The more in-tune you are with your personal inventory, the clearer the way becomes toward realizing a revolving bottom line you can live with. This entails material growth, sure. Yet, most of us want to be fiscally secure more than being concerned with emotional security. One often begets the other. Wealth can either make or break a person, but does it always have to entail money? Can the projected investments one makes into their stocks of life have future growth based on the immaterial?
When does your “A-ha!” moment on the curving, jagged, sometimes blockaded thoroughfare hit you: when you feel surrounded by pleasurable things or from pleasure itself? Are you more concerned with the pathways others are taking around you toward the same destination or objective? Running parallel, yet seemingly with a faster track in some cases? Are you a “Keeping Up With the Joneses” type or do you move forward with a confident tread, leaving your mark without a care of how fast it takes you? Always keep in mind, my friends, the journey well supercedes the destination.
Also keep in mind, every life reaches a crossroads at some point. Some more often than others. It’s scary to hit a point where repercussion outweighs thinking on your feet with immediate reaction. Some personalities are full-frontal. Others are cautious. Impetuous or conservative, actions are determined by a culmination of life experiences, relationships, failures and successes, what works systemically in one’s life, heck, even a ceaseless “to-do” list which dictates our immediate thoughts and motions.
Progression keeps us happy in most cases, though for some, stagnancy and indecision is a safe haven. Leader types tend to get through the obstacles on the road quicker than followers, though it might be said the followers act as a buffer through which the leader achieves so readily. Even the leaders hit the forks in the proverbial (and literal) road, though.
So what do you do when the time inevitably comes you are forced to choose a direction to push your life? You can take the time to jot down a pros and cons list, a pragmatic way to take accountability and assessment before choosing your next path forward. You can also retreat, meditate and ground your inhibitions until settling upon which direction entails the least risk. A night out with a hard drink or two and a best friend’s ear is another good method.
I see the upward and onward attitude the motivated portion of our society takes toward achieving overt happiness, as much as I see others self-crippled in depression and anxiety. Would that we all had the secret map leading us out of an overwhelming land of confusion and into our private (or collective, if you’re a people person) nirvana. I say, however, there is an “A-ha!” to be had more than a “There, there” if you have the wherewithal and the guts to pound out your personal path.
In terms of outdoor hiking, we are most secure upon a marked and blazed path. The clearer the footway, the more painted marks on trees we see telling us we’re safely on our way, the more joy we grab from the moment. There’s security in this, much less all aspects of life. If we have the strength, we go longer in miles, knowing someone’s already taken the time to plow the brush and branches out of the way for us. Yet there come those times, especially hiking in the woods, where split and intersected paths occur. Some of us panic, in search of a posted map from the local rangers, if we don’t have a paper map to use and our cell phones are locked away from signal zones. Other personalities shrug their shoulders and see where one trail leads for sheer kicks.
In terms of life, we envy those with the freedom to indulge their “kicks,” and it often heightens our self-awareness. This may mean inspiring us to raise our standards, to do the time, the research and above all, the work, to achieve a similar footholding. The bipolar opposite, external exhibitions of others’ success may prompt jealousy, anger and insecurity. A self-flaggelation of the id. It could even trigger an internal alarm that one’s path has been wrong all along.
We all go through it, folks, peaks and valleys. To stay onward and upward, though, is to realize we’re all human, first and foremost. We all have worth. We all have strengths and weaknesses, but our spirits are the collateral we pony up for the rides of our lifetimes. Rather than focusing on the fast track, rather than letting others dictate our pace, much less our moral fiber in choice making and direction taking, stop for a moment (especially when hitting a crossroad) and inhale. What feels good to you? What offers you the most intrinsic boost to keep plowing on? What, and moreover, who makes you want to fight for them, much less yourself, no matter how rocky the terrain ahead may be?
There’s not always a perfect path. Sometimes you hit dead ends and you have to regress then regroup before starting on your way once again. Often you’ll need to shed and purge that which has impeded you, be it a fear of failure, a toxic relationship, dead weight you can no longer carry on the incalculable miles it takes to get where you finally feel gratification. For certain, leaps of faith are called upon, and prayers to whomever you believe is your spiritual guide in this life. You will meet on your path people who are your friends and your enemies and those in between. Often those collide, and change over time. The truest of the true will be there when you reach your summit and they’ve done more than pass along a comforting “There, there.” They’ll be saying “A-ha!” right alongside you as the dust of negativity clears and the esplanade to idiosyncratic prosperity looks more conquerable.
–Ray Van Horn, Jr.