I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it
had to teach, and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived.
I wanted to live deep and and suck all the
marrow of life...
~Henry David Thoreau
You've probably read this quote a handful of times- it's a pretty popular one. But how does it relate to you and your life? Have you gone into the woods to live deliberately?
For me, the woods in this poem represent solitude. Going to the "woods" in my life, means going to my time of quiet reflection: yoga and meditation. I do these two things for a multitude of reasons, one of which is this... I want to have a clear direction for my life. I want to enjoy it and learn from it and appreciate the small details that make life wonderful.
I told a good friend the other day that I am a "plow horse". Glamorous- right? What I meant by this is that when times get tough, I don't crumble. I put my head down and pull myself forward with all my might. I'm pretty tough and pretty resilient- it's true- but don't don't be too impressed. I'm doing it wrong.
Moving forward in times of adversity is great - you don't want to get stuck in a place of pain. But what I often forget is something simple... to look up. I tend to keep my eyes on the ground, moving forward, internalizing, and running on auto-pilot. When I do this I'm alienating myself from the joy that exists even in a painful place: the colors, the faces, the friends and family standing in front of me with open arms. I'm missing the connections, the sun rising in the horizon and the shining star glimmering off in the distance. I don't want to miss these things anymore.
Sometimes we need to look up and look ahead, even if the path before us is scary. We can't fully live being a plow horse or like an ostrich with our head stuck in the sand. We need to listen to what the universe is trying to teach us, if we truly want to live. Sometimes the path before us is the treacherous one. If we feel it's the right one, we must take it anyway.
I hope you go into your "woods" today, whether it's long drive, a quiet walk, a long meditation session or maybe a hot bath. Make plans for your future while you're there. Look ahead and see if you're on the path to future you desire. If you are, I commend you. You are sucking the marrow out of life. If you're not, I wish you the strength you need to make any necessary changes. And if you find yourself pulling what feels to be the weight of the world- keep pulling- you'll get there.
Just remember to look up.