I recently have had a profound awareness around the nature of a journey or a path. We are going along our path, often with a destination in mind. The path is beneath our feet and we move forward along this path, sometimes with a destination in mind, sometimes just going along.
And then something happens. Life. Life happens.
A loved dies - or kills himself. You become unexpectedly pregnant. You have a son or daughter who needs you to assist them in some unexpected way. Perhaps she hit her head and can no longer attend school. Perhaps he need daily help with his daughter, and needs you to return to the town he lives in to be the hands-on grandmother. Just when you thought you knew where you were going to be and what you were going to do, Life calls you to a different place, in a different direction.
As one friend says, she sees it like a river. There is the main river of your life, and then there are these tributaries that can suddenly pull you off and into their flow. So you hang out there for a while, living and traversing its rapids until you've run the course of the tributary and you find yourself back in the river. You may find yourself miles further down when you return to the river, or perhaps you're quite close to the place where you departed. Yet you know that you're back on the river. It feels familiar - and that you've returned to something right and flowing with who you are and your life's purpose.
You can look at the tributaries as diversions, or detours, as places where you got lost and an unnecessary journey that pulled you off your path. Yet, you know you're a different person from your travels on the tributary. Something in you has developed, changed, matured, deepened. Relationships have been created and built, or completed, children have been born. But what if these "detours" are actually just as necessary and essential to your life's journey as the river itself?
I see a picture of a straight-ish line going along with these spirals off to the right side, and then the left side, and on and on in varying sizes, each one taking us on a ride and journey that plops us back on the line somewhat close to where we got pulled off. Somehow, we still continue to move forward even as we take these excursions.
I wonder if somehow these spirals actually give us exactly what we need to continue to move forward on our life's path - the skills, the strength, the insight, the courage, the fortitude, the wisdom, the hindsight, the compassion - so that we can actually move forward and bring to our life's path the necessary ingredients to fully receive it, fully own our path, fully contribute to our unique purpose and reason for being alive?
What if there are actually no detours or diversions? What if the tributaries are as much a part of our life's path as the river itself? What if the tributaries and the experiences we have on them are actually what source the river to continue to flow forward? What if without the tributaries and its gifts of growth, development and transformation, we actually wouldn't be able to withstand the rapid flow of the river and would drowned, or be thrown out of the river, defeated by its intensity?
Perhaps we need to develop a capacity or a skill, or an understanding that would support us being able to being in the rapids of the river. I can liken it to having the wrong kind of boat to navigate the rapids, and this particular tributary would give us the experiences to build the right boat so that we safely and smoothly navigate the waters; perhaps I don't have a strong enough oar, and so need to develop an oar to dig deep into the depths of the water.
What if the tributaries are actually the cultivating, strengthening and harmonizing we need to stay true to the essence of the river, our life's purpose, and all that it demands of us? The purpose isn't some destination off in the future at the end, but now, in the present, in each and every moment where we get to recognize and align with our soul's purpose, and choose to reconnect with it, over and over again, and receive and live it fully. In turn, each time we choose to recognize and return to the river, we connect with something greater, both within ourselves and within the bigger world. We then contribute to the greater good of the world at large by being our truth and living our purpose, each time with a deeper sense of presence, capacity, courage, commitment and wisdom.
I'm feeling like I might just be returning to the river...