When I was younger I learned quickly that the tree-lined trails of the mountains surrounding my home were very therapeutic for me. Often when I needed to work through whatever was going on in my head I would take to the forest and find so much clarity in the few hours I spent lost amongst the healing powers of nature. There were moments of deep laughter, all alone in the woods where I was so full of love and gratitude I thought I would burst open. And then there have been moments when sadness and heartache stained my checks with their salty tears and the only thing I could do was barrel up those trails to find release and freedom from the pain.
The trails are like going home to me. The trails allow me to access a part of myself that I can't always find in the busyness of everyday life. The trails open me up and allow me to see life from varying perspectives. The trails get me out of my black and white reality.
Life-changing decisions happens when I get lost amongst the trees, colors become more vivid and my heart more open.
So recently when things in my life started to feel confusing and heavy and I couldn't see past my own narrow vision, I turned to the familiar comforts of vanilla scented pines and tall grassy meadows to find clarity and understand myself and the world around me a little better.
As I stomped and sang (literally) through the Southern California brush, my attempt to ward off any unhinged rattlesnake waiting to lunge at my ankles or hungry mountain lion who was ready to feast on my face, I thought about and analyzed life.
I've been in San Diego almost eight months and so much of what I intended to do here hasn't quite come into fruition. Like this blog for starters. Someone who was once full of so many words, I feel like the moment I l arrived here I realized I left all my creativity and words back in the Emerald City.
I left Seattle with a plan, I thought I knew what I was coming here to do, I had a mission.
Life is interesting like that. One minute you are on a path and you think you have it all figured out and the next thing you know that path just doesn't feel right anymore and you are stuck at a fork in the road. Do you stay right because it feels safe, known and familiar. Or, do you go left and forge a new path?
So much of who I thought I was, what I believed in my heart was my purpose has changed. Admittedly, I tend to be a pretty black and white thinker. I often find myself in situations where its hard to see anything other then my own perceived reality. I remember a conversation my ex-husband and I once had about how so much of my pending happiness rested on whether or not I would eventually learn to see life in color. "Nothing is as black and white as you make it Amanda," he would often say as I would stare back at him with tears in my eyes due to the frustrations brought on my by own complicated yet black and white mind.
And then one day I came across this quote and I laughed out loud when I read it:
"IF THINGS DON'T GO RIGHT, GO LEFT"
I laughed out loud because of its simplicity but also because it reminded me of how necessary it is to constantly remind myself that the world is a very colorful place. Nothing is truly black and white. If something doesn't work or feel right anymore, try something else.
Like the absence of my words, I finally confessed that there was also a huge void in my heart and as much as I was trying to do more, be more, create more, everything in me was craving simplicity. I wanted nothing more then to go to a job, clock in, clock out and enjoy the simple things in my life. In retrospect, all those plans I had were really just the catalyst to get me here so that I could strip it all away and really begin my journey.
"If you don't like something, change it. You are allowed to alter your plan, change your mind and start over. "
As a result of altering course and going left instead of right, I learned one of the biggest lessons. From this one decision to slow down and listen to what I really needed my heart slowly began to heal and a new peace and happiness started to cultivate in different areas of my life. A new confidence took over and I was finally able to show the world a side of me that I kept hidden out of fear.
When I decided to let go of everything that didn't really fit or belong, I was able to see myself, my hopes, my dreams, my desires and my life in a whole new light. So often we think that the more we do, the more we accomplish and create and provide, the happier we will be. But I think that is absurd. The more we do, the busier we are, the more we think we need, only brings us further away from our truth. It's in the simple moments of life that things really make sense. It's in those moments we can really see.
As a dreamy romantic and often enthusiastic believer that everything happens for a reason, I also learned that I tend to drop this one liner as a remiss way of forgoing responsibility for whatever situation I'm dissatisfied with in my life. It's easy to passively tell ourselves, and others, that whatever is happening is part of something bigger, but what if it's actually just the result of making one wrong turn? I wonder, when it comes to life, how much is fate, destiny and universal law and how much is based off of personal choice and free will?
As much as I believe a lot of what happens in life is part of a bigger plan, I also believe we all have the opportunity to change any part of our life that we are unhappy with. No matter how big that may seem, one tiny movement left can create a ripple affect that will change your life forever.
IT IS THAT SIMPLE.
I think a few generations back the idea of "that's just the way it is" took hold and began breeding a cultural belief that life is really hard and we are supposed to 'do life' a certain way. People grew to believe that feeling stuck and stagnant was/is the norm. That empty, unsatisfied feeling was "just the way it was." And to that, I call bullshit.
As I stomped through the trail on Mount Laguna I thought about all of the above. I thought about the wild ride the past year has been and how in one moments decision seventeen months ago I decided to go left instead of stay right and that very moment changed the coarse of my life forever. And with each new day brings with it the opportunity to make small choices that can alter your life in magnificent ways but it takes slowing down, hearing the call and making that decision.
Every single day we get to wake up and decide to go right....or to go left. Right is safe, right is comfort and familiarity. Right is that place we've known for as long as we can remember. Right can feel good but not completely satisfying. We can live in the state of right for a very long time, maybe even forever.
But then there are those that will never be happy going right.
Left is unknown. Left can seem overwhelming and scary but left is possibility. Going left is made from tapping into your heart and asking what you need to feel whole and complete. Going left is forgiving your past decisions and letting them go in order to make room for new and exciting ones. Left is your truth.