Saturday, 21 September 2013

Knowing The Path

Today, I experienced a moment of epiphany.  These moments never quite occur to you where you might believe.  My moment did not come as I stared out across the vast expanse of the ocean, nor did it arrive as I gazed up to the stars of the heavens, there were no snow-capped mountains in view, no deep lush jungle stretching off into the distance, there was no tumbling cascade of a waterfall.  Instead, it came to me as I stood in my kitchen and I poured out my ritual after dinner coffee.  So, just what was this moment of deep realisation about my life, that refused to contain itself, and that rushed at me, before I was able to add the milk to my cup?

There will always come moments when the light shines forth from within.  These times occur when we are most deeply connected with our hearts, when we are in synchronised rhythm, heart and soul as one.  I've experienced moments of epiphany before and I've written about them previously - standing in the middle of a square in Budapest, sitting on the wall at the waterfront in Wellington.  They never come when we expect them, they arrive unbidden, a moment when it feels as though lightning has struck you, or someone has turned on a light in a darkened room.  I know these moments because when they dawn on me, I cannot stop myself from smiling with a deep sense of pleasure and joy, I want to laugh, to shout and to sing out loud.  This can only come from the knowledge that the thought that is now in your head, originated in your heart, that the thought is the very essence of who you are, who you are meant to be.  That thought is you.

For many years of my life, I was in denial of who I was, who I was born to be.  I was not myself.  I was an imposter, or rather, the imposter was me.  I acted out the life of another person because that is what I thought I should do.  I was a good actor because I fooled many people, I fooled myself.  I could not admit to myself the very thing that it was that I wanted the most in life.  Why?  Simply because I was afraid of what it would mean to me, I was frightened of the consequences.  I lived a life where on the surface at least, I appeared to be happy, but underneath, I never truly was.  My true self was buried deeply within me, covered over, so that it was carefully hidden away, lest it should escape.

I could not have been more wrong.  The journey of my life, the story of my life, is essentially one of discovery.  It seems to me that life had a plan and it was not going to let me go quietly away.  Through so many seemingly random events, meetings and happenings, life found me, it caught me in its grip and it would not let me go.  Life reached through to my inner being, it touched my heart, and it rekindled my desires and my passions.  No, not rekindled, since it implies that once there was a fire and I do not recall there ever being a fire in my soul before life took hold.  But once it did, I was like a piece of driftwood, caught up in the current of a river and unable to reach the shore.  I had to go wherever the water of life took me.  Everything that happened to me, the good and the bad, became necessary parts of my journey, shaping me, helping me to learn, to grow, and to evolve my soul.  This river brought me to a place in my life where I was finally ready to admit to myself who I really was, and to become the man I had been born to be. 

Since this time, I have lived my life as deliberately as possible.  As Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden; or, Life In The Woods, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life..."  I have made decisions to do those things that I wished to do, no matter how ridiculous or foolish they might seem.  My journey has taken me around the world, I have been a backpacker, a dive master, a full time student, a project administrator, a charity street funds collector, and a diving instructor.  I have lived for a time in Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Costa Rica.  I have visited and had short stays in many countries in between.  I have experienced things I never dreamed were possible.  And I have met many wonderful people.  All of this was possible because of one thing: I dared to try.

Back to now.  Nearly eight years since my true journey began, I have found myself wondering what I should do next.  I know full well that I cannot do what I do forever, that the physical nature of the work will take its toll on my body.  I have been giving thought to the need for a retirement plan and a pension, that I will need healthcare in the coming years, that really and truly, I have had a lot of fun and that perhaps finally, it is time to stop and to go and do something far more sensible.  With that in my mind, I have begun to think seriously about becoming a school teacher.  It is something that I believe I would be good at, since I love passing on my knowledge and helping others to learn and to grow.  I have even been complimented on my patience, care and teaching skills.  It seems to be a good fit, a way of returning to normality, of a secure future with a steady income.  But something just hasn't felt right.  As much as I believe I would make a good teacher, the thought of it has not fired me with enthusiasm, the way that I fire up when I talk of scuba diving, the ocean, care for the environment, or travel.  I have been puzzling over why not, when teaching would appear to make so much sense?

This evening, as I stood at my kitchen counter, coffee slowly filling my cup, my moment of epiphany arrived.  In that moment, I knew the path of my life and I knew why teaching is not right for me at this time.  More than this though, this thought that came to me hit me hard, and I smiled because here at last was the truth.  Life is short.  Our time on this planet is but a fleeting moment in which to make our mark and to leave behind our legacy.  There are things that I want in my life: a wife, children, dogs, cats, a family.  Right now, I do not have them.  Why do I want to return to the lifestyle I had before, where I was conforming to what society expected of me, when it went against my true self?  I know that it will make me unhappy.  It will slowly but surely tear my soul apart and it will destroy me.  All that I have learned will be lost, forgotten, and things will be just as they once were, before I began.  I cannot let that happen.  I will not let that happen.

There will come a time when I must forsake this particular part of my journey.  This I know to be true.  That time will come when I have need to take care of something more than myself, when my purpose in life shifts to the provision and care of others - my wife and my children.  Until that time, I am going to go on doing what I have been doing.  I am going to see the world, to travel, to enjoy new experiences, meet new people.  I am going to continue to take a chance on life because I do not know when my last day will come.  I am going to have an adventure.

Thinking of this makes me happy.  Knowing why I have struggled over the last months to understand my direction in life brings me great comfort.  I am still going in the right direction.  Life it seems, is not yet done with me, nor I with it.  The road less travelled beckons to me still.  My heart is singing right now, it is joyful, hopeful and it is ready to go on again.  One day, my heart will be joined by another and when it is, we will journey together, we will make our adventures to share with our children.  And at the moment that she enters my life, those two hearts that have beaten for so long in separate rhythms, will beat to the same tune.  There will always be two hearts, but from that moment on, there will be only one soul.



  1. There is a good pun that works nicely in Spanish, not sure if it works quite as well in English but here it goes: -Que tomas para ser feliz? -Decisiones. (-what do you take to be happy? -decisions)

    Many many many times in my life I felt that I had to make a decision at a cross-road but neither choice felt right. Still, I had to make it to be able to continue because standing at the cross road was the worst possible place to be at. I waited patiently in case the epiphany occurred, it usually didn't. I was hoping, time and time again that the right choice would come to me in one form or another. A choice that would fill me with the relief you described. It failed to happen again and again. And the above mentioned pun never or very rarely filled with truth for me.

    I wonder what I'm doing wrong... I wonder what life wants to teach me about making decisions. I utterly, truly, deeply hate decisions now. I have a paralyzing fear of thinking about making just one more significant decision in my life. But at the same time not making decisions is the highway to never realizing my dreams. :( Lost and feeling like a freaking failure.

    Your epiphany sounds like the right thing. I'm happy it came to you. I'll just go an prepare coffee in my kitchen quickly. MaybeI get enlightened too :) xd

  2. D, good decision or bad decision, it does not matter which, since either one moves us on. Nothing is worse than indecision and stagnation. I wonder too what you are doing wrong, are you doing something wrong? Do you make the decisions you take for yourself, for your true self, or do you make them in a way that you believe they are what others would do, what is the sensible thing to do? Perhaps I am more fortunate than others in that the voice of my heart is hard to ignore. It has led me into some dark places, but so too, has it led me in to the most brilliant light. Everything is necessary, dark, light, good and bad. Be your true self. That is all you can do, because life will take care of the rest. It always does.
    I hope you got that coffee and I hope that it works for you. Let your heart run free D. Let it fly. And then see what comes back to you.