How do we end up on our path? I have often wondered this. Sometimes you can pinpoint that moment that you had two paths before you and you choose a certain direction. Sometimes we find ourselves on a path not knowing exactly how we got there.
I am reminded of Robert Frost’s poem, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same, and both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
I think back to my senior year in high school and I really wanted to study massage. My mother felt it would be better for me to go to college. I decided to travel that path, well, for 1 year at least. At my college there was a professor Jeff Noblett who taught Reiki to students. I remember sitting in his house with his two Reiki teachers. We listened to their stories of their healing paths. We learned about the chakras and about opening up to the universal energy to fill our cups and let the energy flow out of our hands to heal. My world was forever changed. I knew then, that I needed to follow my heart and pursue massage.
My mother was not very happy with my decision at first. She slowly warmed up to the idea. She has so often supported me in my life decisions. Once I started down that road, I think she saw that it was a good path for me to take. So at 19, I left the northeast and headed out to California to study massage. Little did I know this would be not a path of learning to heal others, but really the beginning of my own healing path. Healing always starts with ourselves. We can look outside and try to grasp at whatever is in front of us. It is not until we are willing to be with who we are and accept ourselves in all our light and darkness, our strengths and weaknesses, does our healing start. I’ve also found this process of acceptance does not end, it is constant work.
Gardening often comes to my mind when I think of relationships, our relationships to ourselves and our relationships with others. With a garden, you have to create the beds to plant the seeds and feed the soil with nutrients and compost. Once the seeds are planted in the earth you have to water and weed out any plants that are inhibiting space for them to grow and flourish. The elements are also a factor. You have to make sure they get enough sun and water. Sometimes there is not enough rain or too much rain. Sometimes some little critter comes and eats all the plants you have spend so much time nurturing. All the while, you have to weed and tend the garden beds. Garden beds left unattended take a little extra work to tame. Sometimes it gets too overgrown and you get overwhelmed by it and let it go completely.
If all goes well, you get to watch the plants blossom and grow. Then you can harvest them just at the right moment. With some plants, like lettuces, if you wait to long. they become bitter and un-edible. Some if you harvest them to young, they are are un-edible. Once you have enjoyed the harvest, you have to clear the beds and let them rest and prepare them for the next year. It’s a lot of work and it doesn’t end. Day after day and year after year. This is why I have deep respect for farmers!
Our relationship to our own healing journey requires constant tending. When we nourish and support ourselves, we can also reap the benefits of that. Sometimes storms come along out of the blue and it takes time to rebuild and recover.
My friend said to me once, “Healing is a process and not an event.” This is so true. We always wish for the quick fix, but healing can take time and persistence.
So now many years later, I’m still on my healing path. I sometimes feel parched or drenched, but I always know the earth is beneath me supporting me and holding me in all the many facets of who I am.
I am glad I chose this road of learning to heal. It definitely hasn’t been without it challenges, but it has also had many gifts. One of my teachers says, “Our greatest curse is our greatest gift.” This is also so true. So often those things that challenge us, lead us on the path we are today. I do have regrets in my life, but I don't think I would trade the paths I've taken because I wouldn't be here. Right here in this moment. Trusting in my path is the only way I can see the light along the way. What is that saying, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger?
I don't often know how to relate this idea of trust to the greater suffering in the world. My heart breaks to hear about death and war, all the families torn apart and displaced, and amazing historical places destroyed. I have so much priviledge in my life and try to share my light in the ways I can. I see part of sharing my light is trusting in my own path.
Sometimes our paths take us out of our comfort zone. We risk losing ourselves or more importantly finding ourselves. Sometimes we have to take those risks and hurt others to be true to ourselves. I've been both the person taking the risk and moving on. I've also been the person that is left behind. Neither are easy or comfortable, but all those experiences are woven into the threads of our lives and make up the fabric of who we are. It's always a dance to not feel bound and inhibited by those threads, but integrating those threads into ourself and find contentment with just being ok with who we are. It's also a dance not to get caught up in the idea of where we think we need to be or our perception of what others think of where we are. Even if we feel stuck, it's ok, we are still on our path.
Just like that garden, we are constantly going through our own cycles of death and rebirth. Physically, we see this on a cellular level. Our cells die and reproduce all the time. I feel like this also happens emotionally and spiritually. Trusting that path and the cycles that life brings you.
So if you are reading this, you have made it to the end of my pondering for the moment. I’m not sure what I have to offer here on this blog. My hope is that I can offer some inspiration to you as you walk the paths in your life and give you strength and hope to trust the paths you take so it can make all the difference.