Each of us is on a journey; there are no exceptions. We may be paying strict attention to where we have been and where we believe we are going, or we may be taking it as it comes. In either case, we are present to our journey or we are not.
There are, I sense, two ways to look at how we are engaged in our own lives: the method way, and the path way. In my work and conversations, I hear varying forms of this question all the time, “Can you just tell me how to get there?!” Here is the nexus of the Two Ways: I can see where I want to get as there; or, I can see where I am as there. In other words, I am either looking for a way (method) to get somewhere, or I am looking at the way(path) I am getting there.
When I witness someone, who has arrived, or achieved, or accomplished something akin to my own sense of direction, I may find myself wanting to know how she did it so I can replicate that wayfor myself. Transition expert, William Bridges states that, “you and I are headed to the same place, because both of us are on the way to transformation and life renewal. And yet each of us is on a unique and unreplicable path.”
To follow someone else’s way (path) as my way (method) is to attempt to shortcut or replicate an experience that is not mine is to consider or allow someone else’s wayto take the place of my own necessary way. We can’t really make a plan to achieve the results we want, we can only live into them by accepting (even embracing) the challenges which life offers us. In the words of William Bridges again, “…we achieve our breakthroughs not be setting out to break through, but by doing the work that is right in front of us.”
Looking back, I recognize how my own path has been a faithful teacher. I see in retrospect where I diverted from my path when I tried to do me in the ways others were doing them. Devotion to my own path is my work to do, and it is always right in front of me. In the words of poet Mary Oliver, “paying attention is the beginning of devotion.”