“Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be.” —André De Shields, Tony Award winning actor, singer, dancer, and director, in 2019 (age 73)
Over the weekend, Norman and I went for a long walk on a new-to-us trail. We knew the general area, had walked on parts of this dedicated trail location, but not the full loop I wanted to take for a long 4-5 mile stretch of the legs.
I took a close look at the map before venturing onto the desired trail, noted which trail name and which direction to continue when we arrived at a convergence of trails, and read it a couple of times to imprint it in my mind.
I intentionally left my smart phone in my vehicle choosing to let the sounds of spring after the prior day’s lush rains provide the senses with entertainment and hold my full focus.
As Norman trotted about off-leash, I found a brisk pace, and my entire body and mind was awakened and engaged.
We had walked about one mile and the trail switched back toward the way we had come; confident it would reverse itself, I didn’t pause and kept my stride. However, it didn’t switch back as quickly as I had imagined, so a smidge of doubt entered my mind.
In this moment, I reminded myself of my preparation, my clear visual aid and the awareness to the detail that the trail was not straight on the map – it had squiggles. It reversed itself as I, now physically on the trail, noted it had to in order to travel up the hill in the best way to prevent erosion all the while enabling the trail to lead where humans wanted it to take them. The trail gradually switched back and forth to heed where Mother Nature made an easier path, even if it did add distance. So I kept walking, and directed myself to take in all of the fresh new growth, the scent of the earth and trees after a long day of rain the day before. It was magnificent.
Once we reached the trail crossing, we took the new trail that would connect to the third trail I had walked on before and this second-leg stretched for nearly two miles, moving us ever further away from the parking lot. Again, for a moment, I doubted – how far away must this trail go before dead-ending at the known trail? Turns out, it went as far as it needed to go and then promptly ended, delivering us to the known trail that would lead us home.
Even when we know we are headed in the right direction, because the journey is new, different and full of “first”s that keep our senses heightened and exercised for long periods of time, because there is so much novelty, we may find our emotions and energy to hold our minds in the Sage Mind exhausted. Exhausted sometimes to the point of deigning to revert to patterns, relationship and habits we know are not constructive, helpful or supportive of our chosen life journey.
In the case of taking the new trail, if I would have turned around due to my doubt and not knowing when the trail would look familiar, I would have had to walk on a ‘one-way’ trail, walking in the wrong direction which would have caused stress because I would have received not so happy looks and possible responses from fellow walkers and bikers, which would have negated the entire purpose of getting out in nature – to de-stress, to relax. to enjoy.
On TSLL blog, podcast and in each book, we have talked about how the start of a new journey, an intentional journey to shift into living a life of contentment, can often be the most difficult and stressful part; however, such stress is temporary. But it is also important to note, and this is something I write about in detail in The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment, once we have made significant investments, seemingly cemented decisions that take us into a new chapter, we can also have moments of doubt, but in truth, these are moments of fear.
We feel fear at certain moments because we have never been in such a situation or been traveling/living in such a way to know how it will unfold nor how much time and patience it will require. We just don’t know, and that not knowing causes us to shake a bit in fear, to wake up in the middle of the night and worry, but I am here to say, your worry is for naught. If nothing else, your worry expresses your sincerity for the journey you have chosen to travel.
In such moments in the middle of the night, rather than lay there and ruminate, turn a gentle light on and read something that hugs your mind and provides gentle comfort or encouragement – directly or indirectly (lately I have found comfort in a memoir about a person who’s life inspires me ever more with the more I learn about them). Another or additional idea is to journal out your thoughts, but more specifically what is going well. This will bring your mind to a more conscious state and reduce the Lizard Mind’s strength. Then, when your eyelids become too heavy, put yourself to sleep again and when you awake to begin your day, you will have strengthened trust in yourself that even when the fears arise, you can handle those well and know you have grown, and your skills are strengthening to enable you to arrive and live as you wish to in a state of true contentment.
Today in Bend it is snowing (see the accompanying picture to this post above). Yes, on the 8th of May, for the first time that I can remember in the seven years I have lived here, it is snowing in May. But in this moment, it reminds me of the trail that appears to be going in the wrong direction that in fact, is quite headed where we imagined it would lead, even though temporarily it has reverted backwards. In actuality, I know that spring will return and summer will follow. I know because we are going in the right direction toward longer days, which become warmer days and nights. I know this snow storm is fleeting and only temporary. But in the moment, if you don’t know your direction, you may question such a truth.
Since I do know the possibilities of such weather in Bend – a random snowstorm in May (and sometimes June), I can then savor the snow’s beauty, appreciate how unique this is and cozy up in my reading chair, smile while the white cherry blossoms seem to dance in a snow storm they look to be perfectly cast, and the birds eat determinedly from their cafés.
The past year in my own life journey feels as if it is mirroring in many ways the year during my undergrad when I chose to graduate early and so took extended course loads for the final year. Oodles of information, many late nights and early mornings of study as well as work (I was also working three part-time jobs), thus much organization required, but I didn’t doubt my choice for a moment because I knew that it would be beneficial to support the direction I wanted to head, for the future I saw myself living and thriving in. I knew the year of exhaustion was temporary, and its rewards great, and I was correct.
However, because I was so inundated with demands during that one year, I didn’t realize the many lessons I had absorbed, so it wasn’t until I slowed down afterwards that I had the time to first, acknowledge an awareness of feeling and responding differently to the same situations presented as well as the same people; initially, feeling very uncomfortable because I wasn’t sure why there had been a change in my responses; but then finally, giving myself patience and trust that I was exactly where I wanted to be, so I put the lessons to work and began living the life I had envisioned. I was forever changed, and for the better.
Currently, I am in the heart of stage two of this three-stage process, and while feeling discombobulated for more moments that I expected during this latter half of April and now month of May, I am reminding myself to embrace the slow pace, recall and deepen in my mind the lessons I now know and apply them for the constructive outcome I know is possible, the outcome I have worked so hard and clear-eyed to be my reality every day.
In time, as you keep striding forward, the trail will begin to head in the direction you had imagined, the snow will stop, the skies will clear, and you will be savoring the arrival at your destination. Perhaps, as seen below, with a hot cuppa sitting amongst the cherry blossoms surrounded by birdsong.
Today’s post is for every TSLL reader who has made the conscious choice whether long ago to live a life of true contentment or has just recently been inspired to do so after picking up The Road to Le Papillon, who finds themself en route to full True Contentment. There are stages, but knowing that you are traveling in the direction you have chosen is a comforting place to hold yourself when unknowns present themselves. You are doing mighty well and you have come so far and made so many difficult decisions that are supporting you soundly. Your courage to make such decisions will ensure an arrival at your once-dreamed about destination – everyday true contentment. Every Day.
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
Dream First, Then Plan, episode #152
~TSLL READER/PODCAST LISTENER NOTE: Beginning with Season 9 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, new episodes will air on Wednesdays (the 1st & 3rd of each month) instead of Mondays, and a regular Monday Motivational post (such as this one) will appear every Monday. Season 9 begins in September 2022.