I often hear people making comments such as “I wish I was 21 again,” or “what I wouldn’t give to be young again.” Without a doubt, there have been times where I would have reminisced about a past event, or worse, considered what I might have done differently were I able to turn back the clock. It’s beyond tempting to imagine traveling a road not taken, or to consider the jobs we passed up or the partners we didn’t contemplate past the first encounter. “What if?” is a question asked by many millions at one time or another. Surely we can ponder this question also, but at what risk?
What we often fail to realize is that life is like traveling one-way on a highway on which there is no doing over, no turning back, a road on which we will never pass the same spot twice. We must make every inch of the journey count, knowing we are constantly moving forward. What we are moving toward is a matter of perspective, yet it’s also a matter of uncertainty. We may plan for the road ahead, as we would on a real road trip where we pack the map, (or the smart phone with built in navigation), some jumper cables and plenty of food and water. However, as prepared as we may be, we don’t know for certain what lies ahead. Unexpected individuals and circumstances cross our path. Each new event requires a choice and a decision from us. How we act in those moments sets us up for the next set of unforeseen encounters. Before long, we are way down the road and we may not fully understand how we got to where we are. But we keep going because we are compelled to.
I believe there is an innate desire in all of us to want to improve upon our present circumstances, to push forward, to become better versions of ourselves. Sometimes we don’t live up to our own expectations and we may become despondent or even downright depressed as a result. But if we can remove expectations from the equation and just understand that life is a sequence of continued learning as a matter or process, we may just take a little pressure off ourselves. It’s not always easy to grow. We have so many distractions and people and things that are vying for our attention. Our families, our jobs, our innermost desires, are all scrambling to be heard by us. We must be strong enough to push through the clutter, free of expectations, determined to be who we believe we can be. Life is not always easy, but life always finds a way to survive. Like a weed pushing through the pavement we must find our way, and grow like our life depends upon it, because it surely does.