If you could make a map of your life, what would it look like? Have you walked one path, or several? Has the terrain been flat or rocky? What would the road ahead look like?
Let’s see if I can describe the map of my life.
My beginnings were in the east, at the edge of residential land, bordering on industrial. The path I was born on was bordered by rosebushes, but despite the flowery hope, the thorns were painfully evident. Not yet able to carve my own path, I was often passed over fences and imposed upon others.
At four, we moved west as a family and the path seemed to open up, and brought the fertile promise of new topsoil. It was here that I began to picture a direction of my own, and dreamed of writing, teaching, and fighting for children’s rights. But the richness of the soil proved superficial, and the foundation started to crack, and suddenly, we veered off course.
The new road took us out of town, away from the familiar, and on the edge of an escarpment. The way was marked by rocky crevices, and treacherous footings. As strong and independent as I tried to be, there were too many dark places here, and my confidence was shaken.
By the time we ventured back to my hometown, I had already disengaged myself from my parents’ path, and began to carve my own. The beginnings were not auspicious. I was headed into a dark, overgrown forest, which would trip me up many times over the next couple of years, causing me to grasp at any beam of light, desperately looking for a way out.
I came to clearings from time to time, and if you look closely, you will see the areas that I clear cut myself, out of sheer determination to make that time of my life count.
Then there are the moments where the path lifted me out of the woods and onto the sunny, green hilltops, and life was good again. And I resumed my dreams, and pursued my studies, and became a mother.
Until the earth opened up and swallowed me momentarily, but I climbed out of that, and for awhile I walked along the beaten path, not really sure if I belonged, but not wanting to miss out either. See my footprints there, hesitant, beside the road?
And see where I started to carve out yet another new route? There, where the trees are not so dense, and the wood is new, and spring green. Notice how the path begins to develop, wobbly a bit, at first, then straightening out, making it’s way in a slow ascent along that mountainside. There are the plateaus I have talked about, and look there, where I took a steep climb. Those were good times. I had purpose then, and felt so alive.
The path goes underground for awhile. You can’t see it, but it winds its way through the caves. I can tell you, I tried a few different trails while I was under there, but eventually settled on the one I’m on now. You can see it emerging, there at the top of the map, where the mountain opens up to a green valley. I’ll be resting here awhile, but the journey is not over yet.
Just over that next hill there is a village, and beyond that village, on the horizon, an ocean. Looks like there will be a few more peaks to master, and that the road might double back once or twice, but I am hoping for a beautiful landscape ahead, and a lot more ease of travel.
Try it yourself. Draw a map of your own life.