Early one morning, while wandering along the main street of a village at the farthest end of land, I found myself.
The picturesque village of Mendocino sits on the coastal bluffs of northern California. It a village where Main Street is a few short blocks and ends a rocks throw from the Pacific Ocean.
Driving toward the sea this morning, balancing a cup of coffee, I was looking for pictures to make. Glancing in the rearview mirror, the sun blinded me for a second. As my eyes adjusted, an image came into focus. Soon, I would come to understand, it was a mirror of me.
It was a man, a lone traveler, walking toward me in the morning mix of ocean mist sliced by slivers of rays from the sun. The man was a silhouetted figure passing under trees that shaded the street. In a floppy hat, his coat thrown over his shoulders and hanging loose, one sleeve dangling. In the sunlight it looked as if he was wearing a cape.
I recognized this man walking toward me from the night before. A lost soul, he’d been sleeping in a doorway when I last saw him. I’d wondered about him then, his life, his journey. Now, this? Coincidence? I think not.
I jumped out of the car and aimed. A long lens brought the man into full frame.
Click, focus, click, tighter focus, click, click. Four times I fired, and four different images were frozen in time—images that spoke clearly and showed struggle with loneliness, sadness, of traveling alone on this journey of life.
I saw my yesterdays on that morning in Mendocino, and by the grace of God realized, with deep gratitude, the joy of my today.
This stranger in the morning mist mirrored to me so many years of fighting the battles alone, believing only I could handle it all. Struggling until I was bloody; finally beaten to surrender, then humble enough to reach out, to ask for, no, beg for, relief of self.
It was only then, when I pushed through the paralyzing power of fear, did I come to realize that we are not meant to travel alone.
I’m not speaking so much of physical partners, of marriage and friendship, as I am of truly being connected. It’s a spiritual connection, one united with fellow travelers.
In some ways, I still travel alone, but never am I alone, for when my spirit becomes weary, I have learned to reach for a fellow traveler that has walked before me. I have learned to put aside false pride and ask for help. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned to accept myself for who I am at that moment—to accept all of my frailties, weaknesses along with all of the power of my strengths.
For a lot of us, it is only when we are beaten to desperation that we surrender. Why? Because we didn’t know better? Fear? False pride in what others will think? What excuse can you think of? What rationalization do you use?
A lot of us have gone through life believing that when problems surface, we alone must carry the burden. That fear stops us from sharing our fears, struggles—] our humanness. That alone has contributed to a lot unnecessary suffering.
After many years of struggling to be happy, after many successes and some failures, I came to realize that never again would I have to be alone on this journey to happiness.
How about you?
If you enjoy reading this blog please tell your friends and everybody else about this blog.