From the Archives: Take up your Sword, and Forge your own Path

Waves rolling in at Indian Beach.

On a cool, cloudy morning I stand on a cliff in Ecola State Park. Before me lie the thunderous waves of the ocean crashing into the rocks below. The rain falls as a light drizzle before my eyes and makes its way perilously into the violent waves. I can't help but notice that I feel rather like these waves, who are at war with themselves until they tussle into the hard walls ahead. I don't know where my path leads from here. If only life were as simple as the trails. It's typically simple to recognize the correct path forward. Do the rocks look or feel loose? Take a new direction and stray from the edge. Does the trail split with one side appearing more dense? That trail is more than likely in regrowth; take the other path. But, in life we don't always see these blatant road marks. It's oftentimes not obvious when the path you choose is overtaken by briers.

After several years of commuting, working for peanuts, and feeling a bit invisible, I find myself at a crossroads. I can continue navigating the corporate ladder, or I can bow out and find another path in life. Doesn't that sound simple? But, we all know that's an egregious falsehood. Nothing could be farther from the truth! For many years, I've heard from others that they experience the same career dilemmas. The next job will be better; it'll pay more and have a larger responsibility load. The next job will require more intellect and less muscle. The next job will have better benefits and stock options. This next job is going to take their career to the next level. No more coffee runs and breathing life into others' passing whims and fancies. But, that job never actually arrives, does it? We arrive at what we believe to be this long expected job with trumpets blaring and angels singing. And, after all of this pomp and circumstance, it somehow falls flat. I've known a handful of people who always knew what they wanted, and they love their job. But, for so many of us, it's not that easy.

In my last post, I pondered the formula for living a meaningful and fulfilling life. For most Americans, work takes up the majority of their week, so finding a purpose, a mission statement if you will, in your career is essential to living that full life. How do we do this when we fall into these jobs where we're taken for granted or invisible? The current generation we see taking root in the workplace has inspired me in ways I couldn't have imagined. I see so many of us finding this mundane 9-5 corporate world oppressive to the soul. How is that inspiring you ask? Because we all feel darkest right before the dawn. Without this revelation in our generation, we will see no change. The long commutes spent in battle with our fellow man, the unfulfilling career structure, and the quick and fast society we've created isn't doing it for our generation. This "I forgot to eat lunch because I was so busy" thing is not working out. Revival could be upon us at last!

But, we now arrive at the point. Many of the individuals who long for reform seemingly have no idea that it takes their inner soldier to achieve the desired results. Some of us are afraid to stick out too much in the workplace. We won't vote for that guy that might actually unite our bickering parties because "he won't win." If everyone who said that actually voted for him, might he not take office? The corporate structure in America is money fueled, and the only thing that speaks is money. But, who is actually going to change that? The list goes on. Fairly quickly we have finger pointing and name calling aplenty, which is hardly helpful.

However, on this hauntingly beautiful day, I find that I'm inclined to think another way. If I don't act on my ambitions and forge my path in the world, then what? If I don't stand for what I believe in and share with my fellow man, then who will do so? As I reflect on my previous experiences in life, I realize that I've made a few wrong turns. I've somehow followed the wrong path. I've slipped on the loose stones. And, occasionally I've fallen into the tumultuous abyss of sea below the cliffs. But, ultimately, there are compasses, life rafts, and the Northern star to guide me back onto the correct path.

Only a few miles from where I stand, Lewis and Clark found the end of the New World they'd come to discover. They couldn't imagine what might lie ahead of them and in which snares they might find themselves entangled. They had no path to guide them, no trail. I'll guarantee they made a few missteps along the way and probably even turned back a few times. But, their path was their own and theirs to choose. They pulled up their bootstraps, cleaned their guns, and took up their swords to forge their path into the unknown. What a beautiful example of the American spirit, wild and untamed.

I don't know where my life will lead me next. I can't say if I'll find myself writing copy one day, working to fight for the less fortunate, or designing the new emblem on my food truck. My path remains to be seen, but I've wrestled with myself long enough to know how to throw away others' maps and create my own path. If there is one thing I do know it's this: don't sit back idly and watch life pass you by. Don't hunker down with your blinders on and fail to make this country better. With all of the longing and ingenuity I see before me, don't let the opportunity pass to do something marvelous with your life. Every single person I know has a gift. Use it. And finally, if you're unhappy with your lot in life... take up your sword, and forge your own path.

"'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life

Try to make ends meet

You're a slave to money, then you die."

- The Verve

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."

- E.E. Cummings

My husband exploring the beach.

From the trail.


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