Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Universe's Sledgehammer

“Everything happens for a reason”. I’m sure if you had a dime for every time you heard that you would be rich. And yet, there seems to be this unspoken understanding amongst people to respond in some sort of platonic and philosophical manner. Whether it’s a slight nod of the head, or a response like, “you’re absolutely right.” However sometimes in the heat of the situation it’s difficult to understand what that actual reason is.

We’re busy. I mean that in both a physical and mental way. Our day to day lives make us constantly on the go. We’re programmed from culture, society, personal experience, to “go, go, go.” In fact, not only do we pride ourselves on being multi-taskers, but a lot of times we are rewarded for it. The problem is we all become so busy that when the Universe is talking to us and sending us signs, we don’t always listen, and pay attention. So sometimes the Universe has to use extreme forces and bring out the figurative sledgehammer to get our attentions.

A couple of years ago I was in this car accident. However I think I should preface this story by going back a couple of days. I was going through this horrible break up that lasted WAYYY longer then it should have. (I was young what can I say?) And I’m not talking like a bad break up where you eat a pint of ice cream, cry yourself to sleep, and all is well a few days later. I’m talking like the mother of all bad break ups. The holy grail of heartwrenching, jaw dropping, oh my god I think I might die break up.  I was completely depleted, depressed, and had loss all hope. Finally one night the last straw had been set on the camels back and I had lost it. I got in my car and just drove all night. Crying, screaming at the Universe for putting me through what it had. There was absolutely no reason for the cruel and horrible torture I had been suffering. I wondered if the Universe had forgotten about me, wondered if the Universe even cared about me. Fast forward to a day in a half later, I got in a car accident. I was driving down the interstate, there was black ice, I was on a bridge, and there was a semi in front, next to, and behind me. I hit a patch of black ice and spun completely out of control. I had no way of regaining control of my car. I was just waiting to hit something or someone. I remember at one point my car had spun backwards into the next lane and I was staring dead at the truck driver who was next to me. Although at this point my front was facing his front as I was driving backwards. I’m sure it only lasted a few seconds, but I swear it felt longer and I could see the look in his eyes. I finally hit the guard rail on the side of the bridge. The car finally stopped. I was in utter shock. I was literally a couple feet from where the guardrail ended and the drop-off from the bridge was open. A few feet more and I would have gone off the bridge. I wasn’t hurt, not a scratch on me. Luckily, I didn’t hit anyone even though I was surrounded by all those trucks. And finally it hit me- My not so quiet conversation with the Universe less than the 48 before…  it was answering back. Hitting me, (and hard) with its sledgehammer. Telling me that I was not alone, and no I had not been forgotten. And if I’m being completely honest I feel that the Universe was telling me that I better have a little respect because my life could be taken at any moment if it so desired.

Did this accident happen for a reason? As crazy as it sounds, I believe it did. Because life is not some mere roll of the dice, but rather, a woven tapestry of experiences of great significance. Every event we have is important, from the most inspired and enlightened to the seemingly unexplainable, or incomprehensible. Unfortunately as humans we don’t really have a good perspective on the “big picture.”  Sure some are better at seeing it than others, but for the majority of us we have to practice, stop and really think about how everything is connected. If I wouldn’t have been in that accident right after my huge meltdown, I wouldn’t have known if the Universe was really there, and paying attention to what it was doing. That accident re-affirmed my belief, which in turn made me believe that what I was going through with my ex had a purpose. Years later, looking back I could tell you exactly what that purpose was, what I learned, and how better off I am for it. Sure it was hard, and it sucked, and yeah I could have lived without some parts. But overall, I needed all of it (the relationship, the grueling break-up, the accident) to all happen.  Because who knows what kind of person I would be today if all that didn’t happen?  It all happened for a reason.

You might be a little skeptical, which is okay, but think about this: by believing that everything happens for a reason you are consequently avoiding blaming others and yourself. Blaming yourself or someone else only makes the situation worse. It NEVER fixes the situation.

Imagine for a moment that you 100% believe everything does happen for a reason. No matter how big or what the problem is, it’s all for a purpose. Now how do you feel? For me, I feel calmer, lighter even, knowing that I am part of some bigger plan, the criticism, the negative emotions they are all diminishing. Try it, I think you will agree.

Look for those times in your life because everything will change. You will become stronger, more confident, and feel a greater connection to the Universe. Walking with a purpose to live the life of your dreams, all while knowing that everything does indeed happen for a reason.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Road Less Travelled vs. The Road Not Taken

People always say, “Take the road less traveled”.  I’ve always used this as a sort of mantra for my life. Because when you think about it, why do people say this really? They say it because taking the road less traveled requires discipline, bravery, and strength.

 Scott Peck said it best when he said, “The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
M. Scott Peck

So in my mind to take the road that is travelled most is like depriving yourself of the opportunity for the truer answers and the finer moments. The being out of your comfort zone, the feelings of uncertainty, these are all necessities which can only be obtained when pushing you down that uneven, bumpy, road less traveled.

Then I remembered a poem that I read awhile back by Robert Frost called, “The Road Not Taken.”  It’s a famous poem for its “hooray for the future” interpretation. When people read it they can immediately relate by recognizing the “fork in the road of life” metaphor.  The crisis and decisions that are usually accompanied when someone feels they are at a fork in the road is symbolic to almost everyone. Because the choice of which road to take is a great connection between free will and fate. Now whether you believe in fate or not is your own prerogative. But for me personally I believe it’s a bit of both. I believe we have some choice in what our lives become because we wouldn’t be who we are otherwise. However in my past posts I talked about gut feelings and there is a part of me that thinks that those gut feelings is the universe way of guiding us toward our destined fate. But that’s a whole other topic so kind of going back to the poem…

 The author stands in the woods with two roads in front of him. In this poem there is no road less traveled. Both look equally the same. Neither is more travelled or less travelled then the other. Nonetheless, the speaker knows he needs to make a choice so he just takes one to travel down.  What I like about this poem is that the speaker knows he is going to question his decision later down the line, he will wonder what is on the other road, and he will question if he made the right choice or not. I find this to be so honest, and quite frankly, reality. How many times do you find yourself thinking, “is the grass really greener?” But the truth is in this poem there is no right path. Just the chosen path and the other path.  At the end of the poem the speaker is sighing. Not because of a wrong decision, but because of the decision itself. Because each decision he made is stacked and stacked upon themselves. Which consequently marks the passing of life. It’s the decisions he made in those particular moments that made his journey the way it was.  Hence, the poem’s theme being a nature of “seizing the day”.

So, the road less traveled or the road not taken?  I guess it’s kind of like the age old question, “is the glass half empty or half full?” When I originally started brainstorming about this post I was going to write about how I feel like I am constantly attempting to live a life that most people wouldn’t. But now I don’t think it’s about that. Now I think it’s about picking a road and just going. Because it’s not actually about the road it’s about the decisions you make while on that road. So rather than my mantra being “take the road less travelled”. I think I shall now change it to… carpe diem.

“The Road Not Travelled” By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.