I have a fascination with streets; quiet, lonely, deserted streets.
No, I’m not a miser. I just don’t like busy, crowded streets. Sure, there is a lot to see in them but I find that a little distracting, and it’s not what interests me.
I prefer streets in their natural element; trees, fallen leaves, wind blowing, sun beating down the tarmac or gravel. To me, seen in its bare and naked way, you get to see a street’s real character.
I’ve been thinking a lot about streets because I’ve been thinking a lot about my path; the path that each of us walk.
The fact that we are all so different is often and easily lost on us. And so is the fact that our life-journeys even though similar, are different and unique to our individual selves. Sometimes we get caught up in the spirit of competition and striving against one another which permeates our culture and, is frankly pointless if we all understood that we each bring something different to the table.
And even though I know this, the last few weeks I have been acting as though I don’t. To be honest, I have been acting ungrateful.
It all started when I learned that a friend I went to university with was succeeding in an area that has always been one of my dreams. My surprise at her easy achievement led to my comparing myself to her. How come she had done it with relative ease and I was still struggling away? What did she do differently that I was not doing?
By the time I realised what was happening, I was becoming envious of her and her life. I was also becoming resentful that I was still plodding away when her and most of my friends – people I went with to high school and university seem to have it together – doing things; getting married; opening up businesses; falling in love; travelling.
“What’s wrong with me?!” I muttered desperately.
You see what had started off as a small thing…an opportunity to be happy for a friend had turned into something altogether different. I accused myself of hideous things and created a problem where there was none. And hence, gave myself the unnecessary burden of undoing what I had created.
The truth is, there is nothing fair about life. Well, actually, it’s not life per say that is unfair but more the system in which we find ourselves. Some are born with every opportunity handed to them on a silver platter while others are born to a life of hardship and struggle.
How do you make peace with such an arrangement, especially when you are the one who has to toil endlessly for your dreams to come true?
Well, I don’t know the right answer to that question. But I do know that each of our paths is special regardless of what is laden on it.
Yes, it’s unfair. Yes, it can be extremely difficult. But there is also joy and contentment when you come to the full realisation that you are you and not somebody else. Only you can do you and your path justice.
As I slowly undid the damage I had done to my spirit by being envious of a life that is not mine, I realised that loving one’s path begins with what one thinks about his/her path.
If there is no value placed in how far you have come; how much you have grown as a person; and how much you have overcome, you will not have any sense of appreciation for what lies behind you and what lies before you.
If you think that where you have come from, where you are and where you are going is not important, you will not respect and/or love your journey.
I know now that it is only when I make peace with my path and fully accept and immerse myself in it – accepting the blissful times and the difficult times – that I will have the complete freedom to be happy for others and their achievements because I will clearly see and understand that I am not in opposition or competition with them.
So, what am I saying?
You have to be invested in your path if you want to get to where you’re going. You have to be aware of yourself and the road before you because that is the only way you are going to see what it’s all about.
And sometimes, just like my quiet, lonely and deserted streets, you will feel lonely and deserted in your path but never lose faith because just like my quiet, lonely streets; it is in those times that you will get to see the real character of your path.
May you have the courage to let your guard down and allow yourself to love yourself because the crazy thing is…loving your path is essentially loving yourself.