If we give up on the dream, we go into depression and despair. We feel helpless and ineffectual and hard pressed to find ways to keep our self-esteem alive. We have to trust that by the time we have come this far, the journey ahead is shorter than the one behind.
— Christina Baldwin, Life’s Companion
Do you trust your journey? The question comes up as I read Baldwin’s book and I prepare to write in my journal. The spiritual path is chosen. It is undertaken long before we are aware that we are on it. It is a contract we have chosen to take on and that the universe conspires to help us meet by supporting us along the way.
Sometimes the choice seems voluntary. We take action and do so willingly. At other times, we stray, get diverted, or forget and we “seem” to get into trouble. We fight and lament this trouble, and we feel as if we are being punished. However, trouble is simply a way of returning. We are being reminded — re-routed if you will — to what we came here to do and what we agreed to take up. We came into this world with a duty, a plan, a purpose, and part of the game is to realize and do that which we agreed to.
How? By recognizing what feels and seems familiar; by being true to ourself; by following our passions; by embodying who we know we are, even when it goes contrary to what our families and religion tell us we ought to be instead. (Especially when it goes contrary to what society tells us we ought to be.) By looking into what we fear and demanding a reason and an explanation as to why we are afraid of those things.
Often, it is in facing what I fear most that I find my purpose. In the arena of fear is where I (try to) conquer and come to terms with myself. If loneliness is what I fear: what can I learn from it? What secrets lie behind my fear of loneliness? What treasures? What lessons?
Sometimes, it is by meeting or friending someone who awakens something within us. When I recognize a familiar, I ask what lessons they have to offer. What gifts do they bring? How will they support or distract me from my journey? What have I to offer them in turn?
Part of trusting the journey is learning to be curious. We must constantly ask What and Why. We must become experimenters, explorers, tinkerers. Above all, we must be willing to give ourself permission to make mistakes and forgive ourself for making errors (after all, this is Yoda’s last instruction to Luke in The Last Jedi). In making mistakes we are humbled, but we also learn empathy for those who have erred and made mistakes too. When I make mistakes, I (hope to) learn to be kind, forgive myself, extend compassion and mercy to myself first. If I cannot do this, I can’t be kind to others. If I can’t forgive myself, I can’t forgive others. I become hard; I live in fear; I close myself and my heart to mercy. My spirit starves, and I shut myself away from love.
Questions are bound to come up and an empty page is the perfect arena to ponder and attempt to answer them. “Do I trust the journey?” Am I willing to give up control? If the answer is No, that is where I begin. That is where my journey starts; on that spot, at that moment. That is the moment to become curious. That is the moment to hold council and meet with my demons and fears; invite them all to the table and name them by name. I get to know them and start making peace with each othem: depression, loneliness, subjugation, anger, fear, shame (to name a few). I be-friend them and ask: What have you to teach me? What must I learn from you. And, hardest of all: What can I offer you? What do you need from me?
Then I wrestle with my demons. I write a case and make peace with my past: the incidents, peoples, and situations that made me lose confidence in myself and my journey. I forgive myself for being human — imperfect. (I try, at the very least.) I forgive my past and thank it for the lessons it taught me. I acknowledge the lessons learned along the way, and I add them to my skills-set and tool box. I (try to) let go and release all those people and situations that no longer serve me and that I no longer need. I (try to) let it all go, knowing the universe will take care of it the best way possible. I (try to) let go, and begin walking again.
And when I am ready to say “Yes, I trust my journey,” I start walking again, joyfully, full of curiosity, with purpose, aware that this won’t necessarily make my days or the journey easier or comfortable, but assured that I am capable of facing the next challenge that will inevitably arise. Then, I am on my way, (reminding myself to feel) unafraid of making mistakes because now instead of being mistakes the obstacles are opportunities for growth.