Relish The Path
“The real journey of discovery lies not in discovering new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust
Although this is a long journey—24 hours to be exact—and I will be taking various modes of transportation to reach my destination—plane, train, ferry, bus, and ferry—I remind myself not to waste one minute just because I might be tired and overly anxious to get to my destination. Each step along the way is unique– there will be no retracing the steps—no creating the same experience again. It is October 4th,2010 and I will never get this day back again. I must try and stay PRESENT to all the incidental moments and people that happen along the path.
It doesn’t take long for my first encounter with a lovely Scottish man sitting next to me on the plane. He engaged me in conversation after sneaking a look at some of my retreat materials. When I told him I was headed for Iona where the retreat participants would be probing the meaning of life, his interest was more than piqued—evidently he had had a near death experience which left him with a driving desire for purpose, that is, beyond what he did for a living.
“I want to be in a position to guide others,” he finally said, “like you are doing.”
Taken aback by his comment, I pondered it all the way to the train station. Once on board, the spell was broken by a band of exuberant young men, dressed in kilts, heading for a big soccer match—Scotland vs. Spain. As they sipped pints of ale and talked incessantly about their adventure, I found their enthusiasm catching. I leaned my head back and tried to drink in their youthful spirit—their in-the-moment attitude and fell blissfully asleep until the conductor awakened me in the seaport town of Oban. If I had timed it correctly I would easily make the next ferry. But alas, I learned that the winter schedule was already in effect. Momentarily agitated, I headed for a nearby bench and plopped down, focusing on a plaque nearby:
Taking this as a message just for me, I breathed in the salt air, closed my eyes, relished the pause, and felt relief that I had been slowed down. Moments later I heard the sound of bagpipes—a small band marching toward me, followed by others carrying flags and banners, obviously some local celebration. Scotland was pushing itself into me whether I wanted it or not and it was casting its spell.
After shopping for supplies that would not be available on the island, I meandered onto the ferry and felt my focus narrow even more, sitting in the bow, staring straight ahead for the small island of Mull to appear. Always on this journey as I leave behind the hustle and bustle of modern life my horizons grow smaller until I find myself on a single-track road to no where and everywhere—the final ride over to Iona.
And so, at journeys end, by staying in the moment, I am once again filled with simple truths—determination to continue with my vocation and give back, not unlike the desires of the man on the plane—remembering from those young kilted revelers, that joy is a duty—realizing that giving in to delays always offer welcome surprises—that being still is balm for the soul—and finally, having a singular focus eventually leads to clarity. The unexpected is always available on a journey. Take advantage of it.
Questions to Ponder: What moments can you collect for the next few days? Make a list of those little experiences out of which you learned a lesson or new reality. How can taking time to receive a serendipitous moment make a difference in the living of a day?