Gibbs and I went on a long hike through the woods yesterday, a place where we often go. The trails are groomed, meaning the snow is compacted enough to walk on without sinking too deep, and this place is local and almost always empty. As we set off, I decided that today we would not do the little loop that adds about 1/3 of a mile to the trail, as the last couple of times we had done it, there were spots that crossed streams and marshy areas that were not yet frozen over. I wanted a walk without an icy foot washing!
As we walked, we passed the first turn off for the loop, and unsure of where the second turn off joined the path we were on, we kept going straight, which meant we were doing the main trail loop backwards. At first it was fine. But after we crossed the ski trail a couple of times and nothing looked familiar, I began to feel disoriented. Had we somehow got lost? No…. we were still on the groomed trail. Where were we? How much further did we have to go? Had we somehow gone in a circle and were doing the loop again? Nothing looked the same and I struggled to know where we were. So I did what we had to do and just kept walking!
Eventually, of course, we came back to a spot that I recognized, but for a while I was both disoriented and enjoying seeing things that I normally did not see. Walking in the opposite direction gave me a whole new view of trees and creeks and vistas. And I’m embarrassed to say, that this was the first time ever I had walked it in this direction!
How often this is true in our lives. We get in a routine of doing the same things in the same way over and over again. In some cases this helps us…. The routine of how we begin our days gets us out of the house and to school, work or appointments on time! But in what ways does it hinder us? What can stay hidden in our lives if we never turn around, if we always have the same outlook on life?
I feel our world suffers from this… always looking at something from one point of view. At times it feels like we hold so tight to what we think is right that there is no room for expanding our point, especially to the opposite view. And look at the divisions and hate this has caused. How many of you had awkward Thanksgiving tables where some topics were off limits? Or how many felt shut down if they tried to express something that others did not agree with? How can we return to having civil discussions where we listen more than defend, where we open ourselves to truly hear rather than preparing an attack? How can we share stories with one another from our hearts, knowing that we can be heard for the truth of what we are saying? How can we reach across the lines that divide us to come together in unity where all feel valued? Maybe one way is to start by doing something different!
The Sufi poet, Rumi, said,
“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”
Maybe it’s not only true about love, but to discover all the places where we have put blinders on, where we have built barriers, where we have become too set in our ways, where we only travel on a set track in one direction.
As you go through your week, I encourage you to do something backwards! Maybe shower in a different order, or walk a trail in an opposite direction, or even eat dessert first! See what happens, what you notice and feel, and what delights you observe that you often miss.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.