Life is a pilgrimage. It is not a tour. Be its pilgrim, its seeker of truth, its lover of precious learning. See below the surface of what is seen. Get into being. To live this sacred pilgrimage as a tourist is to miss what you are seeking. It is not a place. It is not another person. You cannot take its picture for posterity. You must be it. Get into being.
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To answer the call of the pilgrim is to know that you will be led to the edge of your limits. Only when you are ready to accept that exposure will you find in yourself the refuge you have been seeking. Life’s journey is unsettling and often scary until you are willing to risk it all on finding what you have had all along within you.
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For a sculptor to sculpt the image of a man on a horse, he must chisel, chip, and smooth away every bit from his block of stone that is not a man on a horse. The man and horse have been there from the beginning, waiting inside to be freed of their stony cover. And so it is that for you to become your true, hidden self, you must unbecome all that is not as you were made and meant to be. No other art form has ever been harder to master, and none is more rewarding to undertake.
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Most people travel in packs, where they feel safe. They go no farther than where the pack goes, which is never far. Conformity is their comfort.
Within the pack are also those who play it for personal gain at others’ expense. They see themselves as entitled, and also give lie to the sense of safety that pack-mentality provides. Unrest is there as a subtle and often overt characteristic.
Those who travel alone, or band together in quest of a goal, would appear to be at peril as well, wandering at times into places they wish they had not, dependent on their wits to find a way out. Yet, forced to be fast learners, they tend to be more worldly wise, more accepting of whatever comes their way, and wealthier in the coin of their stories to share.
They who seek independence are likely to wear more scars than most as reminders of their misadventures, but the richness of their lives accumulates in heart and mind, unmatched by any material gain. To those who set their sights on unbridled experience, the wonders and vistas that emerge, inside and out, are blessedly abnormal and expansively alive.
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Driving home from a gathering of friends, I had my radio on and was listening to an interview of the Broadway cast of To Kill a Mockingbird. They were sharing their thoughts of the play’s powerful message and how it has affected them on stage and off. Their comments were inspiring, but what stood out most for me was a quote from Mark Twain that was mentioned in the course of the conversation: that the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you figure out why.
Sadly, not many people figure out why. That second most important day to dawn within them. They deceive themselves into thinking the answer relates to career, social gain, or some other form of external success. Imagine how different this world would be if more folks had a clue that why we are here has nothing to do with such worldly measures. Thank goodness for those who get it. They seldom make the news, but it is they who are leading the way beyond the everyday stories of our mundane wishings and ways.