“But it’s in the detour that we truly find our way.” – If/Then
Looking up from my book while sitting on the swinging bench I was lounging on yesterday at my country getaway, I was greeted with the sight of a haphazardly flying bird – a young Robin – coming directly toward my face. Wings flailing, steadiness yet unfound and uncertainty as to how to control its new found flying apparatus, it hit me square in the cheek and continued to soar to a rocky landing a few yards away in the garden. Needless to say, my attention had been captured.
Immediately, I recognized the young hatchling as I had rescued it earlier in the morning from a handful of curious dogs and cats as it had sojourned on its first trip from the nest. Attempting to learn how to fly with its mother following just behind as a watchful guardian and food in her beak ready to renourish her young flyer, I noticed immense improvement since our first meeting, even if its navigational skills still needed a bit of fine tuning.
Throughout the rest of the day, I kept a curious look-out for the amateur flyer as it found a temporary safe sanctuary in a lilac tree. While the parent kept feeding and nudging the young bird to continue its attempt to fly, for the remainder of the afternoon, the hatchling kept close to the new found branch. In its own time, flying lessons would resume, but not a moment too soon. After all, it had experienced enough obstacles for one day and survived to tell the tales (dogs, cats and a human face).
What became apparent in my day-long observation was that any new journey, when it begins, is fraught with unsteadiness, anxiety about whether it will all work out and fear that we may fall flat on our face. But as I witnessed with the young Robin, with each subsequent attempt to learn how to fly, its strength improved, its ability to fly improved and its direction became much more precise.
So what can we do to turn a frightful journey, yet a journey we are eager to traverse in order to reach the other side, into a successful endeavor?
1. Listen and heed what comes naturally
What do you love to do, what are you passionate about, what keeps calling your name and what are you drawn to like a moth to a flame? Such passion will be the fuel to help you continue to proceed through the initially frustrating and frightening moments.
2. Create a strong support system
Find those people who sincerely believe in you. Reach out and discover people who have traveled the path you are about to begin, learn from their previously traveled journey.
3. Understand your fear and master it
Fear is natural, as it is our minds recognizing that we don’t know what the outcome will be; therefore, it is trying to protect us from suffering. But in our modern world, if we are striving toward an unknown, doing something purposefully, often this fear is a sign that we are headed in the right direction, because part of the fear is wondering what our lives would be like if we didn’t succeed. Click here for an in-depth explanation of Your Fear is Speaking.
4. Continue to strive forward, no matter how small the steps may seem
With each step, we learn. We learn what works, what it feels like to follow this new path, what a successful step looks like and how to improve. The power of small steps is that gradually they add up, and along the way you’ve created a very strong foundation of knowledge and understanding of what it took to get you where you are.
5. Proceed at a pace that is comfortable for you
Depending on how you arrived at the point you are at in your life at this moment, you will feel more comfortable with certain things than others. The young bird mentioned above on its first attempt had encountered near death. Perhaps it would have been more eager to try more quickly if the memory of curious hungry dogs and cats weren’t etched in its mind and so immediately in the past. We can’t expect everyone to travel at the same speed or to gain their sea legs at the same moment because everyone comes from a different set of past experiences.
And so, as we begin to nudge ourselves forward, keep checking in with yourself. Perhaps someone in your support system genuinely believes you can move more quickly, and even though they may mean well, if that pace doesn’t sit well with you, respect how you feel. So long as you resolve to never give up, you will get there – in your own time.
6. Learn from the mistakes along the way
A perfect life would be a boring life. So rather than cursing when mistakes and setbacks occur, mine them for all the valuable knowledge they can offer because there is always something to discover to help you along your way.
7. Pay attention to whom you can trust and who to avoid
Who cheers when you succeed, who is only there when you are down but disappears when you are soaring? Hold fast to those who genuinely cheer for your happiness, and let go of those who only want your company to bolster their own contentment.
As much as we want our journey to a new life, career path or destination to be unobstructed, more often than not, we will encounter something we had not planned on. Instead of being defeated, tuck the valuable, unique knowledge into the back of your mind as no doubt it will serve as a life vest for a future rainy day.
In the moment you most likely won’t know how valuable such detours will prove to be, but life has a way of revealing the hidden magic in these moments down the road at the appropriate time. After all, if life were always smooth sailing, we wouldn’t fully appreciate such peaceful moments and would be more likely to wade into tumultuous waters unnecesarily.
The journey each of us will follow, if we are true to ourselves, will be unlike anyone we’ve ever met. While it may at times synchronize with others and perhaps those who inspire us, if we apply the lessons and take advantage of the detours our lives can unfold into the amazing masterpiece they are capable of becoming. Because as I discovered after dinner later that same day, eventually the young bird found the strength and the gumption, to leap . . . and he soared further and farther and more successfully than he had ever done previously. But, he proceeded in his own time with the resolute belief and encouragement from his parent that he was born to fly, all the while now knowing that human faces were not places to try and land.
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