I’ve learned, over the last few years particularly, to embrace change. The biggest moments in my life involved change (not always welcome), and that is ultimately what defines a watershed moment in life – something changes.
I love the zen story of good and bad, the farmer who just accepted things as they happened and his neighbours who wanted to label things…
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.
It symbolises what I believe, that even in our worst moments, when the world feels black and cold and desolate and we don’t know the way forward, something further down the road is waiting for us. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get there, which can often feel like walking through soft sand. I love Churchill – “If you’re going through hell, keep going”, such a simple statement that says so much, yet it is so easy to sit still in our misery, wallow, stay in hell because the road ahead is hard. But it doesn’t last forever. Everything changes.
A friend and I were talking a while ago about this idea. She was surprised when I said that I could find positive things that came out of the nightmare that was my daughter missing for five long long sleepless days. “Really?” she asked. “I wouldn’t have met you for a start,” I said. “That’s true…” she said.
In our house, we live by the rule of ‘be afraid, do it anyway’ or in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Always do what you are afraid to do”, or the words of Frank Herbert – “Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Fear does not stop us doing what we want in our house, we recognise it, call it what it is, and move forward.
Looking back I can see the watershed moments that have shaped my life clearly, something changed, something small, something big. I didn’t always know it at the time. Today, I know this is a watershed moment. Something changed and it brings with it a whole new direction for my life, the water is shifting course. It’s a little scary and a lot awesome. It means Big Things and New Things and Challenges and Life.
To quote Lao Tzu “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”. Many times in my life I haven’t liked where I was headed but was too afraid to change. I have no idea where the water will take me and I may not be able to see the bottom, but I do know that the scenery will change, the sky will look different, and somewhere I’ve never been before waits just around the bend.
So, some adventure quotes…
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller
It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves. Andre Gide
Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. Andre Gide