Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Twisting Paths

Have you ever wondered if something in your life is ‘meant to be?’ or fate ? Have you wondered if actions, no matter how random they seem, work together to create a path in your life that was destined to exist ? Perhaps, do you believe that we are blindly headed any which way, and yet, we still emerge in a way that is serendipitous? I love this idea, and while I often can’t help but view life as a series of forks in the road in which we must choose one direction or the other, I still can’t keep the idea that whichever fork (or many forks) I take, I will still end up where my destiny lies. I look at big events, such as where I went to school, and realize that I would not have my children had I not made that decision. Even little choices can sometimes turn into something larger…striking up a conversation with a nice person at the library, who will ultimately become a best friend.

Because I do believe that our choices do, in fact, lead us to the destination at which we are meant to arrive, I read “A Stopover In Venice”, by Kathryn Walker, with great enthusiasm. This wonderful novel of literary fiction involves two of my favorite ideas: fate and Venice. Although I’ve only spent one week of my life in Venice, I feel such a love for the city that, in some ways, it feels like a bit of me will always be there. As one walks around tiny alleyways, opening into piazzas, one can’t help but imagine something magical around every turn. Venice, in and of itself, in many aspects feels like fate. After all, it’s a city of great mystery, great beauty and great history. The fact that it was created by a people who simply hoped to defend themselves by living on the water only further illustrates its mystique. In “A Stopover in Venice”, Kathryn Walker tells two stories, side by side, both with their fates intertwined; one of a modern day woman fleeing an unhappy marriage, and the other of a Venetian woman of the Renaissance, who had a loving marriage. Yet, the twists and turns of both Venice, and the stories plots, create a serendipitous existence of them both. This novel illustrates that, even when we are experiencing a negative situation, ultimately, we will learn a lesson from that unfortunate experience that will lead us to further enlightenment. After all, what would inspire us to grow into the men and women we are capable of being, without challenge ?

During times of great change in the world, it’s often difficult to truly process this concept. And, it’s also hard to imagine how a tragedy can be meant to be. When a dear friend of mine lost a baby a week after his much wanted birth, I had no idea how to even find the words to comfort her, let alone picture a way in which this situation might bring about ‘good’ in the end. To be honest, I still don’t know the answer to that dilemma. I can say that my friend has grown into one of the most compassionate people I know…and yet, couldn’t this have happened without her losing her child ? Fate is not always pretty…and it’s not always understandable. I wish I understand why there is misery in the world. I wish I understood why my own children feel hurt by the meanness that exists in their every day lives. If I could take the pain they feel onto myself, I would. And yet, a rational part of me understands that each one of us must feel our own frailties to grow. It’s finding those edges of our personality, our gifts, our strengths and our weaknesses, and then exploring the boundaries beyond them, that do help us to push into the next fork in the road of our own fates.

An illustration I often use in my yoga classes is that of a treasure map. While we’re walking on the map, we can’t see it. We are on the very roadways themselves, and too close to the map’s surface to grasp the overall view. It’s only when our lives are complete that we will be able to look down, see each pathway, each twist and turn, and each fork in the road, and ultimately, view the lessons we learned along the way as the ‘gold’ at the journey’s end. My wish for each of you is a prosperous trip as you discover your own life’s treasured meaning.

As we move through life, the force of fate creates events that we only appreciate when we reflect on our existence. ~ Ronald Harmon

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