I try to teach what I need to learn. And lately I have needed to learn about journeys. I have needed to hear that life’s path is not linear. Often times in my quest to understand something, or to acquire a new skill, I focus on the result. For several months now I have been in a place that I can only describe as a dark night. I feel myself unraveling and no longer certain of many things I once strongly believed to be true. And I have been so focused on finding answers that I have overlooked the process of the journey and the small changes that happen daily. I’m trying to release the results. When I ask myself, “If it were possible, would you rather have the answer right now or the journey?” I always choose the journey. I’m not ready to have the answers yet, but the Universe is kind and has given me some incredibly inspiring stories to remind me that your life can change at any moment. And just when you think you have the job you always wanted or the house you’ve always dreamed of you find something unexpected, something that calls you, and it’s only then that you begin walking the path you were always meant to be on. As I’ve said before, I believe stories are medicine and they hold incredible potential for transformation and healing, so I want to share a few stories with you.
Your Ronnie Dunn is Out There
Recently a friend of mine shared the following story with me: My friend’s sister-in-law works for a media conglomerate and was on assignment in Nashville for the Country Radio Seminar. Prior to her arrival she had been in correspondence with Kix Brooks of country music super duo Brooks & Dunn. At the mention of the name Kix Brooks I was hooked. I was raised on country music and to this day it courses through my veins. Her phone calls with Kix resulted in an invitation to attend a gathering he was hosting on his tour bus. She arrived in Nashville, got on the tour bus and cruised around the city with Kix Brooks. They got to talking and their conversation lead to how he met his musical partner Ronnie Dunn. Kix revealed that he didn’t meet Ronnie until he was 37. There was a whole other life before Brooks & Dunn. This stopped my friend’s sister-in-law in her tracks. She herself was on the cusp of 37 and she replied, “You mean my life may have not even started yet? That my Ronnie Dunn is still out there?” To which Kix replied, “Yes.”
Be a Pilgrim and Trust Your Path
I recently listened to a fantastic podcast from On Being with author Paulo Coelho. You may be familiar with the name Paulo Coelho through his beloved book, The Alchemist. The Alchemist has been read by millions and spent over 300 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. However, for Paulo Coelho it also could have been entirely possible that such a book would never exist. In 1986 Coelho set out alongside his teacher to walk the road of Santiago de Compostella, 500 miles beginning in France and ending at the cathedral in Spain. At first he was resistant to the daily walking, thought nothing would come of it, and by the end of the journey was shedding tears of sadness when it was over. Through the physical pilgrimage of walking the road to Santiago he was preparing the way for the internal pilgrimage that would unfold. After completing the 500 mile journey he decided to follow his lifelong dream. He would change paths, burn bridges, and become a writer. He was 40 years old, he was married, he had a life. But he couldn’t ignore the calling so he wrote his first book, which was then followed by The Alchemist, but success did not follow its publication. The book didn’t sell and he lost his publisher. But he was so convinced of his path that he hustled to find a new publisher. And then nothing happened. Former President Bill Clinton read the book. Nothing happened. Madonna raved about the book in interviews. Nothing. It took 15 years for The Alchemist to show up on the New York Times Bestseller List, where it remained for over five years.
Listen to Your Heart and Adjust Your Sails
This week the academic office in which I work hosted a series of programs for incoming university students and transfer students. The program was designed to help students navigate their own path to success by having a panel of professors and faculty share their tips and tricks. I was not looking forward to working this event since it meant that I would have a 13 hour work day, but the Universe made it very clear I was meant to be there. You would think that the path to becoming a professor is pretty straight forward. I thought so anyway, especially since at one point that was my path. But when the panel of professors began speaking to the students about their own journeys I was shocked to hear panelist, after panelist, tell stories about their lives before academia. They were engineers, business owners, wives, and mothers, immigrants, and lawyers and at various points in their lives their hearts lead them down a new path. It lead them to additional degrees in other fields, out of corner offices and into classrooms. And as they talked I couldn’t help but smile and try to control my urge to laugh. “Thank you Universe. I hear you; you can stop yelling.”
My new mantra: The journey is my home.