While reflecting on a couple of lovely days spent traveling around my beautiful island of Santo Antao, I’m inspired to think about the journey of life. The featured photo was taken from the crater of a volcano here. How does someone come to live in the crater of a volcano?
How do all of the decisions that we make…and life experiences that we have…connect?
How do we let go of our preconceived notions about how something is supposed to go?
I think of how people and mere moments can inspire you to make major life changes. We may expect that those people and those moments are there to stay and meant to last, but maybe that’s not the way it’s supposed to go. Maybe those people and those moments were necessary to push us into the next phase of our evolution.
Or maybe that person was meant only to connect us with someone else we needed to have in our lives.
I think of the cherry tree in Japan that inspired the first meditative question…and ultimately led to a book (!!!). When I asked the concierge at my hotel in Tokyo where I could find a cherry tree, I had no idea that the answer to that simple question could be so inspiring.
Life gives us moments that move us in different directions. Sometimes we are moved because of profound beauty or love…two things that could never truly be put into words (though art is made from trying!). Other times it is a feeling of struggle that makes us believe that there has to be another way.
I once read that our brain only processes a fraction of the stimuli around us, for if we were able to process more, we would be overwhelmed. Life is so much bigger and broader than we can imagine. But it is so easy to get caught up in our own little worlds. Because we do that so easily, we forget how big the Universe is…we don’t acknowledge the endless possibilities…we don’t grasp our limitless potential. Instead, we only feel the pebble in our shoe. (Or for me right now, the hammering that’s happening on my roof haha But I’m going to continue anyway!)
It is so easy to get fixated on a destination. But when I think the last two days spent riding around the island here, I lost track of where we were going. I was on the flat bed of a pickup truck, holding on tightly to a beautiful four year old boy with the wind blowing in my face. I was looking out at the majesty of nature in the trees covering the mountains. I smiled at the golden flowers blooming in trees and the red blossoms lining the road. I was in awe of the evergreen trees growing out of the side of the mountain. Looking down on lower mountains covered in clouds took my breath away. And eating a fresh guava fruit from a kind and beautiful woman living in the heart of the crater of a volcano while a puppy chased that same beautiful four year old boy made me laugh deeply as he ran in circles around me, almost pulling off my shorts before I swept him in my arms to protect him from the hyper puppy, so full of energy. My friends were happily lost in the moment either eating fruits or helping to collect more. Life was happening in those moments. I didn’t care about where we were going or when we were going to get there. I was along for the ride. And what a beautiful ride it was.
And I know that no matter how much I may want it, it would be impossible to re-create that exact same day again. The people, the place, the weather, the moments were unique and special and beautiful. They undoubtedly touched all of our lives in different ways.
Life is like this.
We hear this phrase, “Enjoy the journey!” but what does that really mean? Does that mean that every moment is going to be exactly as we want it? No. Even yesterday, there were times that I was hungry and tired and probably less than enthusiastic haha But then there were those times that I laughed heartily with friends, ran around after children, and felt so much love in my heart that my mouth was hurting from all of the smiling. My spirit only remembers the latter.
So with life, we have this impression that every minute of every day is going to be perfect. We want every season to be Spring or Summer…with new blooms and shining sun. But Fall is about letting go and Winter snows remind you to be like melting snow and wash yourself of yourself (Rumi).
Every phase that we go through…every person that we meet…every moment that we have is meant to be appreciated for what it is. We are not meant to get stuck on any one moment. We are meant to flow through it…like water moving down a stream. But even if we get stuck, whatever we do to get un-stuck is also part of our path.
Oprah gives a good talk about how there are no mistakes…that everything that happens was meant to get us where we need to go. I believe this to be true. We are Creators, and through our choices and our way of interpreting everything that’s happening, we create our lives.
If you imagine riding in the back of a pickup truck as you drive through the moments of your life, there are some things (good or bad) that stand out as being pivotal. There are some moments that make you want to stop the truck to take a picture to try to capture the beauty. And there are others you’d rather speed through haha. But if you look at the trajectory of how those moments (and the feelings from those moments) led you to make different decisions, as you keep riding you will start to see how all of those moments led you to where you are now.
So all that’s left now is for you to park the truck for a minute and acknowledge everything you saw for what it was. Don’t get stuck on anything. Just think of it as a myriad of different things you would see when driving through nature. It is a collection of memories. Since it does not exist now, it only exists in your mind. So, it’s only your thoughts that make it real.
Now, get out of the truck and set about making decisions that your future self will look back on proudly during that next trip through old memories. Life is what you make. Through taking responsibility and ownership of your life, you move closer to realizing your potential. Take decisions out of the hands of others and start building the life you dream about. For you would not have been given those dreams if you could not make it a reality.
In Genesis 2:21, God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. There is no mention in the Bible that he ever woke up. Life is but a dream…now go make it a good one ;)