Monday, June 1, 2015

The Way - A Reflection on Life Journeys


                                      “You don't choose a life. You live one.”
                                                   - The Way (movie 2010)

                       “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
                                           -  “Beautiful Boy “, John Lennon

“What is it in many sentient beings that compel them to construct elaborate contrivances in order to maneuver themselves to form what they believe to be self- defined actualization? Often the perceived ambitious intention and step by step action plans contain a significant expectation of an achievement resulting in self serenity that in reality is rarely satisfying.”
                                             - Unknown

As a young boy I was asked to write a paragraph on where I saw myself in twenty years. Of course I wrote a few paragraphs. It was first person account of the musings of a truck driver with a job that took him from town to town around the country, a picaresque hero of sorts. Sister Bastinda wrote a note to my mother saying how that I needed a direction, a realistic goal and how I wasn’t living up to my potential, whatever that was.

The only real personal dream I had was when in high school was to play the guitar.I loved playing music. It was and still is a Zen experience for me, losing all sense of time as I played. (I have a similar experience now when I write.) Back then I fantasized that my friend, David, and I would be singing and playing our instruments on some family entertainment program on television, Actually, we asked our reliable Ouija board and it confirmed that we would someday be on TV. Still waiting.

Over the subsequent years I meandered the maze of education and career paths. Half listening to Frost’s choice of travelled roads and half listening to the Cheshire Cat’s retort to Alice’s query I took the path that seemed most interesting and adventurous at the time. It wasn’t until I met my Obe Wan, Kirk, who told me of his own accidental Odyssey that led him to becoming a medical doctor and eventual therapist. His Ulyssian episodes highlighted for me the power of being present and letting go as well as the importance of how we live while on the journey. What really mattered he said, “was how we responded to those we encountered, how we loved and lived with compassion and integrity.” My spiritual guide who advised on the Ignatian way of living as a loving grateful faith-filled contemplative in action complimented this counsel. I then added to my lesson mantra “never take myself too seriously.”

So it is no wonder about how upset I can get at times when I hear or see the great marketers preaching the promise that buying into their special unique goal and how achieving it will result in personal success as defined by them.

Though I never became a truck diver nor did I appear on TV playing my guitar I am grateful for the paths I followed, my family ,  people I have encountered, the places I have been…and the life I have lived…. so far.

Sub note: It is not unusual then that I like journey poems, books, songs and movies. I have often fantasized about taking a pilgrimage on the "El Amino de Santiago." Recently I saw a simple movie called “The Way” about a man’s journey down the El Camino de Santiago. It seemed coincidental that I saw this as I planned this blog post. 

The Journey by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
                                                           the only life you could save.

Edith Piaf - Non, je ne regrette rien ( Smart phones click on link)

‘Til I Die – Beach Boys ( Smart Phones click on link)

The Way – Movie Trailer (Smart Phones click on link)

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous; 
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.

 - St. Ignatius Loyola


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