Living on the path is the way I hold myself accountable.
I’ve made choices in my life that I’m proud of and others that I’m not proud of at all. The difference between those is the better choices happened when I followed a moral compass that feels true to myself, and true to my sense of what is holy and good in the world. When I’ve made ‘bad’ choices, I’ve been aware of feeling lost, and not listening to my inner voice or what I know to be true about life.
In my thirties, I made a decision that I would ‘Stay on the Path,’ and by that I mean try to life my life so that I can look back at decisions and outcomes and be . . .unashamed. Shame is the mind-killer after all. OK, Frank Herbert technically said fear, but shame and fear are related.
I know that even wrong choices can help a person grow- but I generally want to avoid misery and pain, don’t you? My 20s were by turns exhausting and even thrilling, but I’m 41 now and don’t have time for an unexamined life- what I want now are winding paths of adventure, not meandering with no destination.
Where did I get this visual of the path? Praise Buddha, praise the Transcendentalists, especially Emerson:
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
But why Buddha? This formerly Catholic, now Episcopalian lady really digs everything that is attributed to the Buddha. Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist holy places put me at ease, and settle my general anxiety.
Reading “The path is the goal,” liberated me not to be so concerned with outcomes at every step of my life, to let go a little. I say a little because letting go is very difficult for me. I’ll write more in the future about this as it seems to be my primary spiritual battle, but studying the Eight fold Path as a supplement to my Christianity has, I hope, made me a better Christian. If the path is awakening to your true nature, then every moment and decision is part of the awakening. Beautiful.
And really, living on the path, for me, is being as kind as possible and striving for goodness. I fail often, but the goal keeps me walking on this path even when I want to pick metaphorical flowers or lollygag by a figurative stream on the path.
What is your path? How do you define the good and the true in your life? I’d love to hear.