You don’t remember being born. Who knows what mysteries the people who carried you travelled through? You slowly wake along the way. Whoever forms your family moves along the road and you move with them.
Eventually you are able to walk yourself and you join the jostle of humanity that shares the road with you as a part of their own path. You learn it is possible to slip and fall and scrape yourself. You even see some step off the edges in the steeper sections and they are gone. If you watch where you’re putting your feet you’re fine. But if you forget where you are it’s easy to trip.
During your journey you will come to wonder where it is everyone is going? What is the purpose of this walk? What will happen when we arrive? Much of what your fellow travellers have taught you now comes into question as you interact with the other pilgrims.
Some of these people are funny, some are exciting. Some are beautiful, some are ugly. Some are kind and some are cruel. At least for while you’re with them. Over time you develop your own attitude about walking and you find that the pace of your steps–the frequency of your being–leads you to find yourself walking in sync with other travellers who take a similar view. This is friendship, or what is sometimes called The Law of Attraction.
You will love some fellow travellers and some will be difficult to be around. Sometimes there’s enough room to escape and sometimes the road is simply too narrow. Some people scream back at the fellow walkers who they do not enjoy. Others plug their ears, others try to run and still others attempt to change the other walker’s attitude.
No one chooses who they share the road with. Sometimes you would rather have fewer people around, sometimes you’re alone and you long for others. Everyone does all these things–it’s a long walk. And where you are is where your steps have taken you, but where you end up won’t depend on the steps you’ve taken, your future will depend on which steps you currently are taking.
Some people simply walk. They ask few questions and they accept what other walkers claim is true. Others exhaust themselves running all over the path trying to make sure they never miss anything–but they do anyway. The crowd forces you to keep moving. It’s the nature of the road.
Other people are always looking around and questioning their fellow travellers. They are driven by their curiosity about where the road is leading. The ones who wonder about their destination marvel at those that don’t. And the people that don’t have the desire to answer that question wonder why people would spend the time questioning instead of simply talking or walking? Of course neither is right or wrong. They’re just different kinds of walkers.
During your walk it is inevitable that everyone will occasionally lose focus and trip and fall, and everyone will also have places where the path is washed away and we are required to make leaps that simply exceed our ability to jump. In most cases the closest of our fellow travellers are quite excellent at picking us up and carrying us when those times happen. You will do some carrying and you will be carried. This is the nature of the road.
Eventually you will find you have a weakness, or you will suffer an injury–or maybe you just walked a really long time–but eventually you notice yourself slowing down. More of the other walkers are now passing you on their own way. You slow to a crawl, and you begin to very seriously question whether or not you will ever reach your destination.
Some people realize it sooner. But everyone, before they die–whether it comes slowly in a hospital or quickly in an accident–everyone has the moment where they suddenly realize that they have never seen any other walker reach their destination either. And it is then that even the most unexamined life will come into focus and you will realize that you were never actually going anywhere.
Eventually you’re either carried or you lay down, but there’s a point where you simply cannot go on. This is where you “stop.” It all seems so arbitrary and yet it is so profound. Peace envelopes you as you realize that during your entire journey, the road home was home, and that hallowed place you were trying to reach was where you had always been. All is well. Welcome home.
Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.