Inspiration of the Self-Reliance 30-Day Writing Challenge

To celebrate Ralph Waldo Emerson's 208th birthday (May 25th, 1803), Self-Reliance urges us to trust our intuition rather than conforming to the will of the majority.

Beginning on May 31st, 2011, The Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance website*** will post a daily prompt. This will continue for 30 days.

This is my unique creation of personal reflection and responses, based on those prompts.

***See link below for the site.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Alternative Paths

DAY 14

The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown.
 In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?”
They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them.

Here’s another one to confirm the benefits of mindfully living in each NOW present moment.  The fact is that it’s difficult to forecast how we will really feel in ten or twenty years from now – or at any future time.  So many people utilize all of their energy in going after their dreams (or what they “think” their dreams are at the time).  Of course, those thoughts could be correct for that exact moment in time, but thoughts may change tomorrow or at some future time.  They storm full speed ahead pursuing an end result; not ever knowing that when they reach their destination if it will be what they really desire, or not.

The problem I see with this is that it omits the best part of striving for that ultimate quest.  We become conditioned to see only that goal, keeping our eyes fixed firmly on that ending target; all the while neglecting to enjoy the ride along the way.  There’s a whole journey in the search for the destination.  This is just another great example of why living mindfully in the NOW present moment is such a key part of life.

What will we do once that quest is conquered?  We’ve exerted so much energy and exhausted much time, isolating ourselves from actual living life.    

Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to take the journey from here to there with an open mind?  One may still have an ultimate goal planned, but that doesn’t mean that particular path must be followed without being aware of potential optional opportunities.    

Compare this to taking a road trip.  Your destination is across the country.  You begin early one morning, driving all day, stopping only to sleep; just to begin the drive again the next day.  You do this until you reach the endpoint of your trip.  You do your visiting and sightseeing; and then head back on the road toward home.  Again, your main objective is to drive until you arrive home.

What’s wrong with this picture?  Well, nothing is really “wrong” with it, if you are aware that you are overlooking opportunities.  To enjoy life and be mindful of each present moment, it would seem best to take some time along the way to “stop and smell the roses”, so to speak.  Think of all that is neglected during the journey toward your goal.  Maybe take a side-trip or two.  When you approach a fork in the road, instead of following the map exactly, take the alternate route and just go for the adventure. 

It’s the same with the journey in life.  It’s okay to drift off the main path to allow yourself the adventure of taking an optional direction.  Our desires, choices and goals may change along the path, and that is acceptable.  I think maybe we need to give ourselves permission to do this.

Plans and goals are great, but understand that there’s this thing called “LIVING LIFE” to experience in conjunction with the course toward your goals.

We are born into this life – to be experienced and enjoyed – challenged and rewarded.  We leave this life when we die.  Death is the end of this journey.  Take advantage of possible life’s experiences and opportunities. 


To respond to the question in the prompt: 
In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?”
I’d have to say I’m blessed to be able to look at my current quest and know in my heart that I am choosing alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths by living my life mindfully in each NOW present moment. 

As I’ve been writing my daily blogs for this monthly exercise, I’ve realized how fortunate I am to be sixty-three years old and feel as though I actually have a grasp on really living life.

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