“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
A brisk, Sunday morning walk in late November was all I needed to be inspired to write something for my blog which has been sorely neglected these past months. The inspiration to write often hits me on a Sunday especially when I am walking in the midst of nature. One of my favourite walks is the French Basin Trail located a few meters from my apartment in Annapolis Royal.
I had just begun my recent walk when Robert Frost’s quotation from “The Road Not Taken” popped into my head. Why this particular poem, I wondered? I had come to a fork in the trail. Before me lay two different paths meaning I would have to decide which one to take. This was easy because I was familiar with both, so what was the real reason for this poem’s appearance? Interesting how one thought or word can lead to another and another…For me this had to mean something deeper in my life at this time.
As I continued walking, my mind travelled back to the choices I have made, not just this past year, but throughout my life. Choosing to leave my marriage, sell the house and move to an apartment this year weren’t easy choices to make. They were some of the most difficult I have ever made. However, I don’t regret them because they have given me the gift of opening the door to my heart. Instead of allowing my head to make the choice, I dared to pass the task over to my heart for which I am happier.
Lately we are hearing much about becoming more heart-centered and less head-centered. To clarify just what this actually means, let me take it one step further.
Most people on this planet, especially here in North America, have primarily relied on their heads or thoughts when making decisions. This approach is based on reason and represents the masculine side of their personalities whereas the heart is based on feeling and is more representative of the feminine. Ideally we should be using both when making our life choices.
To be heart-centered, we must go inside to find our answers. It will take a bit of work, but it will pay off in the end. It will build up a strong character within and is guaranteed to bring more happiness. Is this not what we all seek? Unfortunately, many people don’t understand this so search for their happiness from outside sources, such as money, fame, or just more of everything.
Learning about who I am and what I want out of life didn’t come with an overnight epiphany as it might have for some and maybe never for others. The seed was planted more than 20 years ago when I had the opportunity to delve into the theory and work concerning the human mind by the brilliant psychiatrist, Carl Jung. I was living in Toronto and searching for a career that would bring me more satisfaction than the one I was in. I had literally drifted into teaching grade six students after obtaining an education degree, then into retail sales, got fired from a high paying account executive position with a publishing company, which then catapulted me into counselling other unfortunate people who had lost jobs and were floundering like me.
To make this career switch from sales into counselling, I enrolled in the Transformational Arts College in Toronto to learn and experience how to overcome any addictions I had and leave behind my baggage so I could embark on a more balanced life….necessary qualities for good counsellors to help others. This was the beginning of my journey into finding my ‘self’. Like so many of us who find ourselves stuck in our heads and failing to listen to our hearts…or soul as many wise philosophers have called it… I gave up my dream of becoming a counsellor due to outside pressures, such as lack of spousal support and money. Back then I had yet to learn that I also had myself to blame. I was afraid to take this leap of faith and simply accepted what my head was telling me which was… I wasn’t good enough to take on the challenge. I had unknowingly sabotaged myself because I was coming from a place of fear instead of love and trust. Today I know I would have made a good counsellor and could have helped others to find their ‘selves’.
There have been many attempts to follow my heart throughout my long life. Some I managed to take, but many I did not. Deciding to travel solo without my husband was a choice I dared to take and it has served me well. Scary at first but the benefits of gaining more confidence and independence were invaluable. I was finally accepting myself for what I really was without the shackles of being someone I felt I needed to be.
Making that decision to set out travelling on my own terms set the stage for my decision to end my marriage and put our house up for sale. At the age of 70+ I was well aware of giving up the security that comes with having a spouse by my side and a house to come home to after my travels. I knew that the only way to find out what road to take which would give me some inner peace would be to go deep inside and listen to my heart. With more meditating, reading, and listening to those who have taken the road less travelled, I was encouraged to let my heart take the lead once again. I pictured my dream in my head, quieted my mind, and let my heart be heard. Surprisingly I found this method of stilling my mind was transported to my body…mainly my gut. I have since learned that studies are showing that the brain, head, and gut are all connected. Every time I visualized being stuck in my unhappy rut, I would feel a sinking sensation in my stomach; however, when I changed the picture and visualized being free of all that, I would sense joy and happiness. By doing this several times, always yielding the same effect on my heart and gut, I knew I had my answer.
It’s true what Jung and many other wise souls have stated over the centuries: we have the solutions to our problems inside of us. We don’t have to find them from others, such as an Almighty Being, our teachers, parents or any other outside influences. We need to start by making friends with our ‘self’ by accepting the good and the not so good parts. Jung called the the latter our shadow. If we could all come to accept ourselves with love and understanding, then we would find it easier to do the same for others. If we could all manage to do that, could we as a human race not experience a huge shift or transformation that would lead our messed up world from one of darkness to light. Could we not prevent ourselves from extinction or self destruction?
Some pictures of the French Basin Trail