At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden yesterday, Mom and I kept seeing these small wooden signs that said simply "Please Stay on Path". As we talked about my life and career, we considered what my path might be and how I can shape it to encompass all of my interests and passions. We thought about all the different ways that we get distracted, what causes us to lose focus, and how we can regain our bearings.
Staying on path at the garden is much easier than it is in life. It's easy to lose direction, to veer off our course, some times without even realizing exactly how it happened. Some opportunity seemed like something we wanted to follow or we had an experience that made us consider a different way forward. Sometimes these side trips are life changing for the better and sometimes our interest in these new pursuit fades as quickly as it appeared.
And then there's the question of flexibility. We get new information all of the time and we want to make sure that we have enough flexibility to incorporate the relevant info into our plans. Think of it like our bones. We want our bodies to be flexible, though the strength of our bone structure makes all of our activities possible. Without the rigidity of our bones, we'd never go anywhere! A life road map provides the same kind support.
I've found very often that I make much better life choices when I am running toward something and not away from something. It's the difference between looking forward and looking back, and making choices depending upon which of these actions has more say in our decisions. I like a good balance of both. I want to be informed by my past and not ruled by it. I want to be hopeful and excited about my future without sacrificing the wonderful things about the present.
There's nothing that says a path has to be a straight shot. Mom and I wound through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, explored the different routes, and trusted in a healthy dose of meandering. Our map helped to make sure that we didn't miss things we really wanted to see and that we headed only down roads that interested us. We had our priorities of what we wanted to see, things that would be fun if we had time, and things that we'd prefer to skip. And we took time to smell the flowers along the way. We enjoyed being surprised by things around the bend. We let our senses guide us on some adventures to things we had missed on the map. It's a beautiful metaphor for how to live life.