Sitting on that hill in California overlooking Monterey Bay was an extraordinary moment–one for which I was also totally unprepared. Life is like that sometimes. We work to find a place for ourselves, searching occasionally in places where we never thought we would find ourselves, and expending efforts that may go on for months at a time. In spite of how diligently and passionately we conduct those efforts, we sometimes find ourselves right back where we started, wondering how it could be that we were so foolish not to see where it was headed. There are no guarantees that diligent efforts will result in achievement of our goals, and even when we are not searching at all, extraordinary moments can occur, for which we have actively searched many times without success.
In all my searching, there have been only a handful of extraordinary moments, and each one was worth every effort. But the ones that seem to have meant the most, have been the ones that occurred when I wasn’t looking at all. Recent events have produced some amazing results in my inner world. I have been moved forward and fell backwards; I have been emotionally elated and devastated; I have pushed the boundaries of what I thought was possible, and found myself facing the limits of my endurance. Nothing could have prepared me for the depth and breadth of these experiences, and just as we exhale a sigh of relief when the struggles we face have concluded, so too, must we weep bitterly, when all of our efforts have failed to achieve what we long for so desperately.
The only sensible response to such a failure, after we expel all of our most bitter tears, is to begin working to find a place to begin again. We cannot allow setbacks of even this monumental sort to extinguish hope. It isn’t easy to face such personal loss or epic failure, and we should not be surprised when the pain of these experiences knocks us down. If life is to mean anything in the long term, we must persist even in the face of such setbacks. I am still learning this lesson, even many years after my extraordinary year in California. Back then, I was young and foolish, and unschooled in such matters. Even now, as a mature person, with many such experiences, the pain of failure still stings, and the lessons that I thought I had learned I must learn again.
The story will continue…and so will the journey to find a place to begin again…..