I learned a lot of important lessons when I used to take my backpack full of outdoor gear into the woods and disappear for days. For a short while, that trail became my whole world. It taught me that all we can really do is to put one foot in front of the other. The destination was never the point, it was always about the journey.
We all get stuck in ruts. Then we get frustrated, overcome by guilt or shame. We sometimes manage to get out of the rut only to find ourselves stuck in another just a few moments later.
This is what is known as a feedback loop. We find ourselves going around and around in circles, sometimes spiraling completely out of control. At this point we have to stop everything and start over.
None of us are perfect. I think that feeling guilty about getting caught up in these loops can only serve to reinforce them. So I advocate, especially to myself, to take that guilt and set it aside. That guilt is not my essential being. That guilt is a program that can be turned off for the moment. We can silence our monkey minds and open our eyes to the reality of where we are. Is the path you are on taking you where you want to go?
Unlike being on the trail in the wilderness, there is no map of life that we can consult when it feels like we are way off course, lost in the wilderness. These days, with GPS and electronic gadgets in our pockets, we feel like we are in complete control of our destiny. But then the batteries die or the signal is lost and we find ourselves in the middle of the woods with wolves howling on the ridge and no drinking water.
Then we find out what we are truly made of. We can reach into ourselves and find the resources to keep hiking toward the lake, or we can give up and stumble to a paved road to thumb a ride to the nearest Walmart. We can either experience something new and expand, or return to the familiar and contract.
So with this in mind, I take my own imperfect yet perfect step forward.