Imagine life is like a vast forest that each of us explores as we make choices every day. Sometimes we’re on well-worn paths and sometimes we’re hacking through unmapped jungle.
Some of us know which direction we want to head, and others follow the next most-promising turn.
Most of us at some point climb a tree to get a view of the land we’ve covered and to get a glimpse of what the future could hold.
Often it’s hard to see that our own path lies far, far away from where we want to be.
Dreaming of the Future
It’s easy to stay seated in that tree and dream of flying machines that will carry us over the forest to our dream destination: financial freedom, security, physical beauty, children, world peace, having our own business, spiritual maturity . . .
When we are so far from where we want to be it seems that descending the tree into the dark forest and taking a step is futile.
So we stay up in the tree, dreaming of distant lands and hating our winding path of a past.
We need to learn to make peace with our path.
Where am I?
We need to be brave enough to accurately plot our position in the forest. For good or for ill we are where we are right now and we cannot wish it away.
If we want any hope of reaching better lands we must accept where we are and where we came from.
Only then can we determine the direction to follow, and only then can we drop the baggage of the past and find the strength to take the next step in the right direction.
And then the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and . . .
It is anything but easy. Dreaming in the tree is much more appealing (especially if we have our smart-phones with us).
The Struggler’s Advantage
But all is not lost or wasted. We might not see any advantage in our previous paths and our current situation, but they might hold some secret power that will brighten our future.
I didn’t grow up athletic, so when I first started running in college my whole body screamed in resistance. As I struggled through each step my encouraging runner-friend cheered me on. I realized then that no matter how hard my friend had trained all his life, he would never know the difficulty of making a sedentary body move for the first few times.
The people at the top of their fields often have never been at the bottom long enough to know what it feels like to be an outsider or an adult beginner.
Math teachers choose to teach math because they like and understand math and may never understand the struggle and feelings of inadequacy that many feel when presented with a math problem.
When it comes to helping others, our weaknesses might just become the source of our greatest strengths.
Unique Past, Unique Destiny
Our time exploring the part of the forest we didn’t want to be in gives us a unique perspective that equips us for the future in ways we cannot yet see.
So let’s make peace with our path, be honest about where we are, decide which direction we want to head, and get down that tree into that dark forest and take that hard first step, then the next, and the next, until the sun goes down.
Then do it all again tomorrow.
If it’s true for us personally, then it’s also true for our families, our towns, our countries, and the world.
Let’s make peace with our path and do the hard work of moving us all toward a better future.