Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Make Your Own Path

"Travelers, there is no path. Paths are made by walking." ~ Antonio Machado, Spanish poet

A few years ago, my friend, Amy, and I were talking about the lives that were stretched out before us, that were laying in wait for our arrival. We were at a place called The Little Grill, a co-op restaurant in Harrisonburg, Virginia. We were both graduate students; Amy was getting her Master's in Conflict Resolution at EMU and I was getting my MBA just down the road at UVA in Charlottesville. I asked Amy how she saw all of her work playing out. Would she go overseas? Did she have a specific issue or population she wanted to work with? What did she think the universe held for her? Her response was that she didn't know; the only thing she was sure of at that time was that she wanted to build her own road and not wait for it to find her.

I remember that conversation so clearly. Amy's passion for her work was so evident. Now here we are, close pals, building our respective roads. Our paths have been shaped by many unexpected events, some good and some not-so-good. Those paths weren't laying in wait for us as I originally thought. We've had to build them, one tiny piece at a time, by trying something, and trying again and again and again. Maybe our fate isn't set by the Universe at all. Maybe we find our groove by moving.

While it can be a little disappointing to know that our perfect life isn't out there waiting for us to show up, it's also very freeing. Maybe our life's work isn't pre-determined. Maybe there's nothing to discover, as if it's been there all along. Maybe it's all more dynamic than that. Maybe our life's work can be whatever we want it to be, and if after a period of time we want to change it up, then that's A-OK. After all, it's our path, and it's only going to be built by us moving forward. And sometimes moving forward means moving on.

Someone I know is very passionate politics right now. He's researching all kinds of election methods and voting systems because he's become deeply interested in how our government operates. I told him yesterday that I can't wait to see how this all plays out for him, where it takes him. He said, "well, for now this is my interest. Tomorrow it might be the clarinet, and then that's all you'll hear about from me." Little did I know that he was saying exactly the same thing as Machado. His path, Amy's path, all of our paths are ours to build. Take whatever turns you want.

The photo above can be found at:

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