Posts Tagged With: paths

It’s Probably for the Best

A little something for you to ponder.

Photo by Kettie Olsen

Photo by Kettie Olsen

“The most precipitous chapter of life always begins before we quite know it is under way.” ~ Ivan Doig, Worksong


(If you aren’t familiar with Ivan Doig’s writings, you’ll want to avail yourself of the privilege. He’s a master wordsmith able to leap large mountains with a single word.)

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Wondering How I Got Here and Where I’ll Go Next

It’s Gratituesday! Very late but still Tuesday. And so, thoughts on Gratitude. Today I’ve been thankful for the various roads, side paths, trails, meandering walks, and, yes, even detours I’ve taken so far in life. I never set out to be standing where I am today. I don’t think I could have planned such a thing. But here I am, wondering how I got here. Wondering why I got here. Wondering if I can feel gratitude for where I find myself.  I got here by taking a variety of roads, some reluctantly, some eagerly. Some with a frightening naiveté, some with willful rebellion, and some with no choice whatsoever.

A mossy path like this makes me want to walk barefoot.

A mossy path like this makes me want to walk barefoot.

Moss growing amongst stepping-stones happens slowly. Edges become softened by years and footfalls, snow and ice, sun and rain. Such a work of creation takes patience which few of us possess anymore.

And yet, so much of life requires this elusive persevering ability. Simply allowing the passage of time to do its slow, steady work feels so unproductive. Sitting and staring into space can’t possibly be accomplishing anything. And yet I find an odd emptying out and filling up happening when I let such slowness happen.

Some days it feels as if all I’m doing is pouring sand back and forth between one container and another, like a small child in a sandbox. The same thoughts, the same subject, the same recurring aches, back and forth, side to side, up and down, around and around. I’m not even digging, just reviewing details over and over and over.

Maybe, someday, I’ll have a cobblestone path edged in soft green moss that I can wander through in my mind. For now it’s all sharp rocks and pointy edges and dirt. The following quote makes this idea vivid and memorable:

“The best teachers have showed me that things have to be done bit by bit. Nothing that means anything happens quickly–we only think it does. The motion of drawing back a bow and sending an arrow straight into a target takes only a split second, but it is a skill many years in the making.” ~ Joseph Bruchac

An open meadow can be it's own kind of meandering trail. Or a perfect spot for to doze.

An open meadow can be it’s own kind of meandering trail. Or a perfect spot for to doze.

This next idea by Emerson sounds profound, but I’m not sure I buy it. Sure I get that he means to be a trailblazer, be a leader, be brave, think outside the box. All those ideas that back in his day were shocking and revolutionary.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m not so sure leaving trails everywhere we head out falls under the wise and wonderful category.

I was grateful to wander off the trail into this meadow recently where I didn’t want to be followed or even necessarily find my way back there again someday. The experience of a few perfect hours, my back against a log, snow in the shadowed spots, silence and sunshine beginning a long slow healing process can’t be replicated.

Would you consider a sidewalk, even a bendy, curvy one, a trail?

Would you consider a sidewalk, even a bendy, curvy one, a trail?

Unlike sidewalks which are cookie cutter copies. We have the strangest sidewalks in my little suburban town in the desert. Winding, bending, meandering contraptions. They look quaint and a bit artistic. But if you need to actually get somewhere in a decent amount of time, it’s a bit of a nuisance to be zigzagging your way there. A one mile stretch gets much longer when you’re lollygagging to and fro. Even riding a bike on such a path gets annoying and inconvenient. Add in the bonus of temperatures above one hundred the lovely, landscaped concrete path is downright silly.

I understand the concept, really I do. I’ve wandered hand in hand with MSH on a moonlight evening on this very spot. Maybe it’s a subliminal message telling me to slow down. Take in the moment. Don’t wish away the spot you’re at for one further down the road. Learn from the path you’re walking.

But what if the road you’re on hurts? Pinches? Burns? Aches? Then what? Am I still supposed to somehow enjoy the journey? Don’t count on it. Not from me. Not here. I’m not one of those “grateful for my hardships” kind of people. And yet there’s this:

“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for.” ~ Louis L’Amour

I learn my most profound lessons from children. This one in particular points the way toward joy more often than anyone I know. The quote reminds me that distraction and physical nourishment can’t fall by the wayside.

Forget the sidewalk, I'm splashing my way through the gutter. Isn't that what it's here for?

Forget the sidewalk, I’m splashing my way through the gutter. Isn’t that what it’s here for?

“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.” ~ Anne Lamott

It’s the little things that can make all the difference in how bearable or delightful an experience turns out.

Lots of pebbles on this particular path. I've learned to wear shoes, not sandals.

Lots of pebbles on this particular path. I’ve learned to wear shoes, not sandals.

But, surely sometimes it is the little things that bring the world crashing down around us.

“Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.” ~ Muhammad Ali

But sometimes it definitely is the mountain itself that explodes, avalanches and crushes you. Or maybe it’s just so dang steep  and constant that you’re worn out.

What then? Where do you get your oxygen from? How do you lift the weight off and dig yourself out? Or do you have a higher power that help you do that? Friends? Family? Faith? Hope?

I’m not sure if those are little things or big things. It depends. But those make a difference.

All the metaphor and symbolism in paths, roads and trails happens for a reason. It’s a no-brainer. We see life in a line, one thing after another, just like a road. I’m not always thrilled (understatement) with the road I’m on, but eventually I can look back and see a few things. I can see progress, sometimes. I can see something I thought I couldn’t do, that I did miraculously manage to do. I can see stuff I learned, or failed to learn and might need to learn again. I can see traveled byways strewn with gratitude and tears.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Attempts at Keeping the Unwieldy Tamed

Sunday Quotes

I’ve found I don’t always make clear transitions of logic that others can follow. That’s particularly true if I’m not well, or slightly medicated, which is the case today. So please bear with my leaps of sensibility and know that it made sense in my mind at least for a time.

I’d never read this poem by Robert Frost until this week. Not sure where it’s been hiding. Thought I’d share it with you today.

                  God’s Garden

photo-19 copy 10“God made a beauteous garden

With lovely flowers strown,

But one straight, narrow pathway

That was not overgrown.

And to this beauteous garden

He brought mankind to live,

And said “To you, my children,

These lovely flowers I give.

Prune ye my vines and fig trees,

With care my flowers tend,

But keep the pathway open

Your home is at the end.”

~ Robert Frost

Isn’t that a lovely picture as we wander and wonder through life, pruning and pinching back the wildness around and in us?

photo-18 copy 16Then I found this thought, which seemed to fit with my week of pain and impatience.

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.  Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.” ~ Oswald Chambers

Never been much of a fan of God’s timetable. But then, sometimes, usually I’ll admit, God’s timing is perfect. What else would it be. It’d just me thinks the timing is off. Patience is not one of my strong points. Especially if pain is involved.

Also, never been a fan of Stephen Covey, but this rang true to me. Not sure if this idea fits with the previous two, but I like it anyway and so it gets inserted here:

photo-23 copy“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.” ~ Stephan R. Covey

I think what I like about this is the “pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically” approach to saying “no.”

And clearly, this brief paragraph by Beryl Markham (aka Karen Blixen from Out of Africa fame) doesn’t fit with any of the three thought preceding it. But, I feel I’ve reached past the fourth day of unkempt and wild and thought I’d share the sentiment in her poetic words, with which I’ll close today’s post.

“I had never realized before how quickly men deteriorate without razors and clean shirts. They are like potted plants that go to weed unless they are pruned and tended daily. A single day’s growth beard makes a man look careless; two days’, derelict; and four days’, polluted.” ~ Beryl Markham

photo-20 copy 4

Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Oops! and Ouch!


(Photo credit: CarbonNYC)

”Experience is that marvellous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.” – Franklin P. Jones

Looking closely at this wrong way sign makes me wonder where it is and why it keeps getting dinged. Crunched repeatedly it’s obviously taken a few hits. Reminds me of the look you can sense in some people who’ve taken some tough hits from life. In fact, I’m sure I’ve seen that look in the mirror occasionally.

Dirt Road

(Photo credit: Barbara L. Slavin)

“Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.” – Jerry Seinfeld

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all over the idea of Robert Frost’s poem of taking the road less traveled. It’s a romantic notion of adventure, unique experiences and rare beauties. Focus on that word notion. The price one pays for the those rarities in a high one.

But let’s face it. It’s not the easy road. It’s got the potential to get you stuck in the mud up to your rims. The road less traveled will lead to some sleepless nights, and painful days. The road less traveled will require some sacrifices and some tough decisions. And yet, a few of us choose it anyway.

All the onlookers from the other road shake their heads, chuckle to themselves and forget about the crazy ones once they get going on their own journey. They’ll even throw in an “I told you so,” when someone stalls out on the side of a less traveled path.

You may have stumbled on a less traveled path yourself. You may not even know that’s what it is.

I suppose the trick is an ability to laugh, like Seinfield, at the silliness of the foibles and the unfairness on that road. It’s also a good idea to keep your eyes wide open.

Happy travels to you today on whatever path you’ve taken.

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