Self Reflection Byte - Love the Journey

Self Reflection Byte - Love the Journey
Photo by Alex Shuper / Unsplash

Table of Contents

  1. The Start
  2. The Learning
  3. Figure Stuff Out
  4. Travel Lite
  5. Love the Journey

We all love to travel. Who doesn't?

I was always somehow fascinated with the metaphor of life as a hike or a journey. I still am. But as the years pass, I can see this analogy being clearer as we move forward in life.

Imagine going on a hike - the hike of life.

The Start

We all start our hike from our first cry. Technically we can say from the time we form as an embryo, but let us skip that technicality.

Our first cry comes out when we feel the outer world against our skin, then we feel our parents' touch & love.

grayscale photo of woman hugging baby
Photo by Isaac Quesada / Unsplash

We then sense & learn different things - learn to walk, make sense of objects around us, colors etc.

We are vulnerable & small - our parents take care of us. They hold our hands as we walk forward in life - dusting us as we fall & holding us as we walk as toddlers.

The Learning

We learn stuff during our hike - from other close hikers like family, friends and during school, college, university, job, colleagues, books, movies, documentaries, Tiktok, Instagram, get the idea. We learn and sometimes find that most of what we learnt in school or college is not applicable in our daily lives. Also, we learn new things from life experience. To imbibe these learnings, we have to learn to unlearn & be flexible in our understanding of life, like water. Like Bruce Lee said "Be Water, my friend"

During our hike, we meet different people on the way who are also hiking. Some hikers influence our lives in different ways & at different levels - first our parents, then family, friends, teachers, colleagues, bosses, their bosses, random people etc. We are also shaped by the people we interact with.

As we move forward in life, we learn & experience stuff which shape our thoughts & attitudes to life & our surroundings. Our experience influences the path we take for our hike. We understand the signs of what to avoid & what helps us move forward.

There is a quote - You are the average of five people you spend time with.

This is so important to understand that we have to be careful to choose our friends. But do we do that ? Nah.... when we are kids or teenagers, we have to be with "the gang". So we try to mingle - either we get accepted or rejected. We learn from such rejections & move on. Some move on & some don't.

In our adult life, we try to conform to the same gang rules in office or life. We do things to conform to norms that we may not like. After several falls, we realize that we don't need to "conform" to make others happy.

Figure Stuff Out

I love deep rainforests (though I've never been to one, hope to one day). Going deep into a rainforest is like going deep into ourselves, the dark foliage of our thoughts, imagination, knowledge & emotions. We don't know what lies beneath. But we try to figure things out.

a waterfall in a forest
Photo by Richie Roberts / Unsplash

Figuring things out is so underrated. It is how we move forward in life. The more we accept it, the less we get stressed out as we realize that we don't have the answers to everything & we got to figure things out.

So, we need to understand that all of us are on our own hikes. The paths are there before us & we choose the path we want to take. The choices we make in life decide the direction we take & this choice is influenced by our upbringing, surrounding, the information we consume etc.

This understanding makes us aware that each one of us comes with different experiences, influences & figuring stuff out. Taking a step back helps us understand other viewpoints better instead of sticking to our own views as ultimate gospel.

silhouette of people
Photo by Tobias Mrzyk / Unsplash

So, everyone is doing their own hike in life. Some are close to the end of their hike & they try to help others move forward with their lives by sharing their knowledge & experiences. Some have just started & excited to go forward. Some just move forward without caring.

We hold the hands of our kids as they start their hike when we ourselves are on a journey and prepare them for their hike. Do we teach our kids how to walk the rough path of life or make their path for them? We do both. There is no right or wrong answer - we figure it out as we move forward.

We think a lot from the questions that our kids ask as they figure things out. Do we have the answers to all their questions? Maybe yes, maybe no. But as I said before - we figure the answers out.

toddler's walking on the seashore with adult
Photo by Guillaume de Germain / Unsplash

Travel Lite

We meet different people during our hike - some stay on, some leave. We say good bye to some, breakup with others. We move forward & either our paths cross or it doesn't. But we learn from our interactions & experiences & carry them to the next part of our journey. But some of them end up adding to the weight like regrets or anger.

It's just like collecting stones in our hiking backpack. Over time however, they becomes heavy and we can't walk forward with so much weight. So, we need to throw some stones out & travel with what is needed to carry our journey forward.

If something becomes too heavy for us to handle (like regrets), we have to let it go.

But sometimes we love some stones so much (attached to something or someone) that we just can't throw it away. It's not easy to throw some stones but ultimately we do throw them out & move on.

Sometimes we meet someone along the way who walks the same path & shares our journey together for the rest of our lives - through sunshine or hailstorm. That bond gives us strength to carry on the rest of the trip.

person in black jacket and brown pants walking on snow covered pathway during daytime
Photo by Jonathan Kemper / Unsplash

Love the Journey

Our hike gives us opportunity to learn new things on the way. We must have curiosity to see small beautiful things in our path. We have to learn to love the journey. It's like seeing a small butterfly or bird fly past us. It can be a beautiful flower. It can be a rainbow – anything that makes us feel happy inside. It can be a book.

Again I repeat that we have to love the journey.

It applies even when we learn something new. Have patience, love the learning process. Set up systems to make learning as frictionless as possible. James Clear said in his book "Atomic Habits"

When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don't have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running.

Also, another important quote from James Clear -

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

The fundamental question that we need to ask ourselves is - Why are we taking this journey? Where do we want to go? In other words, where do we see ourselves over the next XX years?

Our habits, life systems & processes need to be aligned to that goal.

Sometimes we lose our way or don't know where we are during a hike. But we move forward. We are unsure, doubtful & afraid. What do we do next?

road between trees
Photo by Andrew Neel / Unsplash

Should we go forward or not? We face this question on many occasions. We talk to those who have walked the path & decide based on our priorities - do we want to take that path or not. Some people are lucky to get good mentors who help them figure stuff out. Most of us are not. If we don't get a mentor, we figure stuff out ourselves. The internet is a treasure trove of information & guidance if we know where to look.

If we are on a hike, where do we want to end up? Deep into the forest or on top of a peak or next to the ocean? The things we need in our backpack will be different depending on the destination. The conditions along each path differ so we need to change our approach and the most important point is - to learn on the way & love the path and what it has to offer by way of making our journey memorable, fun & enlightening.

man opening his arms wide open on snow covered cliff with view of mountains during daytime
Photo by Jason Hogan / Unsplash