Literal or metaphorical, life’s ‘journeys’ tend to follow a certain pattern.
Whether we are taking on a new career or study path, leading an instrumental new project, learning a new skill, or embarking on more of an inner journey of transformation or personal change, our journeys can transpire a myriad of emotions and outcomes.
‘The road less travelled’ beckons to all of us at some stage in our lives. And I have rarely regretted answering its call – even if it means having the ‘courage to lose sight of the shore’.
Stage One – Setting Sail
As we begin our journey, anticipation, trepidation and excitement often sit companionably together, as we consider the unknown expedition ahead of us. Expectations weigh heavily on our mind.
What will this journey deliver?
Will it be the panacea we are seeking?
Stage Two – Stormy Waters and Still Calm
After the initial excitement wanes, we inevitably encounter our first challenges, setbacks, let downs and disappointments.
What do you do when you meet this uncomfortable journeying companion?
What are your common patterns of behaviour when you come up against these stormy waters?
Do you retreat, telling yourself that it was unwise to take the risk?
Or, do stick to your guns, remember your “why” and find solutions that enable you to keep going?
At some stage of the journey we will encounter still waters.
The eye of the storm.
Sometimes this ‘dead calm’ can be equally as frustrating as a stormy sea. We ask ourselves questions like, why am I not moving forward, even though I am working so hard?
This often feels like we are not making progress because nothing is “happening”. We become ‘stuck in a rut’.
What helps in times of stillness?
Patience. Knowing ‘this too shall pass’. Concentrating on what we do have control over.
Trusting in the process, valuing stillness and the plentiful benefits it can bring.
In her book, Wild Courage, Elle Harrison devotes an entire chapter to the topic of stillness, explaining why it is important to embrace stillness as an integral part of a journey. She says – “Can you trust the emptiness, between the old world and the new, and wait patiently for new life to emerge?”
Stage Three – Lost at Sea
One of the hardest phases in any journey, is what I call the 32 km mark of a marathon. You know you’ve reached this mark in your journey if you feel like you can’t go on – and throwing in the towel. For those of us who have given birth, this is like being in transition! Questions like,
“Why did I take on this ridiculous journey in the first place?” and,
“Where is the emergency exit?”, are common.
Disillusionment, exhaustion, even despair can feature in this stage of your journey.
Sheer grit. Knowing that in the words of Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going”.
There is a reason why the darkest hour is just before dawn. And if you have given birth or run marathons, you know this is the time to dig deep, and focus on accomplishing your journey. Remember your destination, utopia, enlightenment, is just around the corner.
Stage Four – Our journey ends
Finally, arriving at the destination. Crossing the finish line. The end of a journey can bring mixed emotions – elation, pride in your accomplishment, sadness that the journey has finally come to an end, a sense of loss.
Was your journey worth the blood sweat and tears that you gave it?
Did it deliver all that you had hoped?
Were there unexpected gifts of this experience you did not anticipate?
What were the lessons you learned?