I've been thinking a lot about The Path lately, as often happens when something new comes along and quickly alters one's life course. Whether expected or unexpected, welcomed and appreciated or dreaded and dismissed - the events that redirect our path are pivotal moments in life that should not be overlooked. It is at these turning points - in these transitions - that our path truly unfolds. In the past month I've had two significant course "redirections," one was starting my first year of law school, the other was my first car accident. Attending law school had been joyfully planned and enthusiastically received. Getting struck by another car was a frightening surprise that left me feeling helpless and alone. Both experiences were shocks...and it is only now, in the ensuing weeks of calmer waters, that I have been able to reflect on these two events whose simultaneous transpiring I believe to be no coincidence.
Let me start by saying I am quite familiar with shocks. In fact it is the shocks in life that I believe catapulted me into alignment with my true path. Whether a painful break-up, getting fired from a job, the severing of a close friendship, the startling loss of a loved one, a failed business, or an abrupt end to a long-held dream - in the moment all were resisted. Years later the blessings are so clear, the gifts so poignant, and the course redirections vividly recognized with enormous gratitude. Even when goals are set and accomplished, welcome beginnings commence, and wishes manifest...in all the excitement there can still be a shock that reverberates some time later. Because in that exact moment - The Path is forever altered.
Last month I dove into law school with the same commitment that I bring to any new endeavor. I had spent a year exploring, strategizing, and arranging all the pieces that would deliver me unto this moment. The moment where I would walk through the doors and a new professional life would begin. The largeness of the moment had an essence similar to that of booking the trip of a lifetime held in the heart for many years, or planning the wedding day or the release of a first novel, or perhaps preparing for the birth of a child or the launch of your own business...all this effort for these long-awaited spectacular moments you think you've prepared yourself for and yet once they arrive and fade into the hours, they leave you feeling lost, alone, empty and deflated. Law school was no different. By week two the nascent excitement was gone and I was drowning. Left with the overwhelming and practical reality of rearranging my life to meet its expectations and demands. Like the new marriage, baby, or business...the transition was all-consuming and I lost myself for a moment in the shock of it all.
I have learned that when it comes to shocks...if we don't pause, if we don't bear witness to the power of the transition...hours can turn into days that become months which fold into years and one day we are left wondering, "where did the time go?" If we are not mindful of the shocks - the turning points - we may be further along, but we could also end up further removed from our true path.
The car accident woke me up. I'd spent nearly ten hour days at school in Manhattan and the remaining hours before bed studying at the dining room table. The fridge was empty and groceries needed to be bought. So I set out on a Friday afternoon for a quick shop. Within seconds of pulling into the parking lot I was smacked hard from the side by another driver. After the insurance cards were swapped and we'd taken the requisite photos I pulled the car off to a corner and bawled. It was my first accident, and although a minor one, it shook me. I'd driven in more than a dozen states, at all hours of the day and night, in the craziest of conditions - blizzards, downpours, dust storms - for more than twenty-six years, and despite it all I'd never had an accident. It was a shock that was a clear wake-up call.
The wise ones say that all of life is merely a play, a never-ending movie in which we are simultaneously the actor, producer, and if we are lucky enough to find self-mastery - the director. In seeking the spiritual significance of shocks you only have to look at the stage. The clues are in the setting - while a house represents you (your subconscious, emotions, mind, relationships, etc.) - a car represents your path. So here I was, struck by the universe to stop and take a look at my path. And the beautiful understanding that I came to was this...the welcome chosen shock induced the painful unwanted shock. In other words, I had been so engulfed by the new path that law school was presenting - the path of the moment - that my attention had been pulled away from the eternal path - the path of the soul code. The Path of attention. The Path of balance. The Path of non-attachment. The Path of spiritual nourishment. The Path of self-care. The Path of soul devotion. The Path of inner harmony. The Path of trust.
For many, life is lived in the enduring enclave of the known, a path that comes with its comforts but also its sacrifices. For security breeds stagnation and stagnation asphyxiates the soul. To be an adventurer, to live a life dedicated to learning and growing, to remain in the constant wonderment of it all takes great courage and vulnerability. It is a path that demands persistence, resilience and above all - trust. Trust that no matter what arises, it is all happening to bring you into alignment with the miraculous unfolding of your sovereign self. Even as it is essential to remain open to where the universal cosmic flow wants to take us...it is our divine duty to ensure that we continue to honor our spirit and our soul gifts with our commitment and attention to SELF.
The truth is, we need not ever be consumed by an event - for better or worse - nor are we ever really helpless or alone. Some shocks send us in new directions so that we may grow, others settle us into a deeper resonance of self and remind us of the person we are meant to be. What the shocks do is illuminate where we have lost a sense of wholeness, of unity, with the most important person in our lives - ourselves. For me the shocks reminded me that there is another book, and other creative projects, that I've been neglecting. They reminded me to pause, get centered and grounded, and not use this intense time of transition into law school as an excuse for abandoning my SELF.
As a dear friend once gently advised me, "The real work of life is to constantly be in touch with your SELF, everything flows from this. When you know your SELF - your powers, your gifts, your intentions - then everything else that happens in life is just whipped cream." In the scheme of things a law degree at this point is just whipped cream on an already rich and blessed life...lived in constant awareness of, and devotion to, the soul path.
To honor The Path of the Self, even in times of great change, this is the immense work of being an adventurer.
Pause for the transitions and take the moments as they come...my dear, fellow travelers on The Path. ▵