Rugged, challenging, beautiful…it’s no walk in the woods
Along the rugged journey of life you will experience uphill battles, exhilarating descents, times when the destination is completely out of sight, where the path you’re on dead-ends, where you cruise through good fortune, and where you collapse into exhaustion and hopelessness. You will at times discover a companion, you will part from another, at another bury one, and some will remain forever. Much like trekking towards a summit, the meaning isn’t derived from standing at the top, it’s found in every step along your journey…
Stumbling upon meaning
A meaningful journey isn’t so much about a singular experience or constant feeling of happiness. Through my own journey, it has become increasingly apparent that a meaningful life draws upon, and exercises your capacity for compassion, tenderness, care, connection, self-awareness, forgiveness and creativity. Meaningful activities and relationships may come and go, but always leave something behind. And unwittingly, our periods of struggle, loss and loneliness gives us the most eloquent insights into what matters.
As we travel through the highs and the lows, there lies an opportunity to loosen our hold on our egos and shift our perspective; casting off our fragile pride, self-interests and narrow-minded opinions. As we experience suffering, joy, loss, and the many lessons, we begin to see other people in a more gentle picture. We gain empathy and see behaviour as driven by past experiences and hurt as opposed to malice and cruelty. Life shifts from self-centred to other-centred.
When you arrive at this vantage point in your journey, ones moments and relationships begin to feel more precious—the poignancy of witnessing the suns orange glow blanketing a turquoise river, the warmth of a lovers hand in middle of the night, the charm of a laugh with a friend. There is a tenderness, longing, and vulnerability. From this vantage point, status is irrelevant, possessions are hollow, and resentments fall away.
Here is a place you can recognize what is worth fighting for, what unnecessary things weigh you down, and when faced with several paths to venture down—even though so much of what we could discover threatens to be painful—you have the clarity and confidence to make a decision with your whole heart.
Look how far you’ve come
Life can remain meaningful even when it encompasses times that, at first glance, appear to have been a fruitless effort. We may spend several years figuring out our career, putting energy into unhealthy activities, and we may have endured disappointing relationships that left us shattered. But these experiences don’t have to be dismissed as merely meaningless. The wandering and exploring can connect you to your eventual purpose and growth. We needed the career trial and error to understand our strengths; we needed to dabble in a variety of activities to understand where our joy lies, and we needed the failed relationship to fathom our hearts. We must look back with compassion for ourselves. With the understanding that at the time, we simply could not have known. We weren’t foolish, we were – like all humans – operating with the information we had at the time.
As our life journey comes to a close, we will reflect on the people we’d met and who touched our hearts, the lucky leaps, the regrets, what didn’t work out and what did, the dreams that didn’t come to pass, the wishes that came true, what we’d endured and experienced, and the person we transformed into. We were at times soaring with positivity, glowing in love, flourishing in our pursuits, discouraged by setbacks, battered by tough times, paralyzed by grief, pushed beyond our limits, yet we kept going. Our lives were not insignificant; and at moments we succeeded to understand, the meaning of life.