Have you ever gained an insight that had been right in front of you for some time, but for whatever reason you hadn’t seen until that moment? That’s what I experienced on a recent walk along the canal near my house.
As I walked, an obvious metaphor struck me. Obviously it wasn’t very obvious to me since I’ve lived in my current house for five years and walk this canal on a regular basis! What I observed, was the water flowed with ease at a steady pace. However, depending on the angle of my view (perception), the water could also appear still with no movement at all.
This struck me as an interesting parallel in a couple of facets. One is that our perception determines our reality. And the other aspect has to do with the experience of life as a whole. Have you ever perceived your life to be static while someone else could identify forward progress in your life?
Quite often we are all too close to our own life to observe the obvious. As a life coach I’m honored and grateful to work with people willing and committed to achieving their goals and improving their effectiveness. Progress of the individual is clearly evident to me yet often missed by the person in the process.
Likewise, I can absolutely be convinced there is no forward progress in my life while my coaches and support system can see tremendous improvement or advancement.
We definitely need to learn to trust ourselves and our own visceral guidance. However, most of us don’t seem to be a good gauge of our own progress. Part of trusting ourselves means recognizing we’re often too close to ourselves to provide beneficial feedback.
Whether it’s a goal we’re striving for, or a new skill we’re learning, or steady overall personal growth – we can be too close to make an accurate assessment of ourselves. Eventually we begin to see the progress; though most of us dismiss the preliminary, seemingly trite, yet significant steps that allow the evidence to become visible to our awareness.
Back to my walk along the canal . . . Further down the path the flow became somewhat restricted. This was due to a pile of debris, from nature and humans (litter). The current was slowed but not stalled. There’s a “sorter” (sorry, I do not know the actual technical term) in place to remove the debris and have the water continue on the other side. A steady, gentle flow is necessary in order for the water to get to the other side. Once cleansed the water surges ahead.
Could the debris in the canal represent life’s challenges? How often are we tempted to abandon our goal or our growth process? We are convinced snags are permanent barriers. And we are swayed by the presence of the debris (challenges) that what’s ahead holds no promise of anything better. Yet our quest is to persist.
Focusing on the challenge will result in a form of paralysis – mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Concentrating however on what we’re striving toward is what propels us through the challenge until we come out on the other side. This process can seem like an eternity and there are no shortcuts. The only effective way is through the process.
We have a choice to be bitter or better as a result of our challenges. Sometimes the choice to be bitter or better is one of the greatest obstacles in moving forward. Bitterness actually prolongs the very process we claim to want to move beyond. Choosing better will be harder at first, but easier in the long run.
What could a “routine aspect” (walk along the canal) in your life be attempting to teach you? How would that insight alter your perspective? How could that new paradigm enhance the quality of your life?