Monday, January 19, 2009

Life: A Walker’s Guide

How to honour and care for the path you’re on.

1. The path begins at a crossroads. There you can stop and think what direction to take. But don’t spend too much time thinking or you’ll never leave the spot. Ask yourself the classic Carlos Castaneda question: Which of these paths has a heart? Reflect a lot on the choices that lie ahead, but once you’ve taken the first step, forget the crossroads forever or you’ll always torture yourself with the useless question, ”Did I take the right path?” If you listened to your heart before making the first movement, you chose the right path.

2. The path doesn’t last forever. It’s a blessing to travel the path for some time, but one day it will come to an end, so be prepared to take leave of it at any moment. However enraptured you may be at certain landscapes, or scared when you have to make a great effort to keep moving forward, don’t get too used to anything – neither the hours of euphoria nor the endless days when everything seems so difficult and progress is so slow. Don’t forget that sooner or later an angel will appear and your journey will arrive at an end.

3. Honour your path. It was your choice, your decision, and just as you respect the ground you step on, that ground will respect your feet. Always do what’s best to conserve and keep your path and it will do the same for you.

4. Be well-equipped. Carry a small rake, a spade, a penknife. Understand that pen-knives are no use for dry leaves, and rakes are useless for herbs that are deep-rooted. Know what took to use at each moment. And take care of your tools, because they’re your best allies.

5. The path goes forward and backward. At times you have to go back because something was lost, or a message to be delivered was forgotten in your pocket. A well-tended path enables you to go back without any great problem.

6. Take care of the path before you take care of what’s around you. Attention and concentration are fundamental. Don’t be distracted by the dry leaves at the edges. Use your energy to tend and conserve the ground that accepts your steps.

7. Be patient. Sometimes the same tasks have to be repeated, like tearing up weeds or closing holes that appear after unexpected rain. Don’t let that annoy you; it’s part of the journey. Even though you’re tired, even though certain tasks are repeated so often, be patient.

8. Paths cross. People can tell you what the weather is like elsewhere. Listen to advice, but make your own decisions. You’re responsible for the path entrusted to you.

9. Nature follows its own rules. You have to be prepared for sudden changes in the fall, slippery ice in winter, the temptations of flowers in spring, thirst and showers in the summer. Make the most of each of these seasons, and don’t complain about their characteristics.

10. Make your path a mirror of yourself. By no means let yourself be influenced by the way others care for their paths. You have your own soul to listen to, and the birds to whisper translations of what your soul is saying. Let your stories be beautiful and pleasant for everything around you to hear. Above all, let the stories your soul tells during the journey be echoed along each and every second of the path.

11. Love your path. Without this, nothing makes any sense.

Paulo Coelho