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Narrow Road

29 August 2012 | Category: Stories | Author: Clare

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Mathew 7: 13-14

I am not averse to taking inspiration from whatever source presents itself.

Though not raised with any codified religion, I definitely was raised not to belittle, or diminish other people's beliefs.

I remember wandering around Corinth in Greece, only to be told by a companion that this was where Paul had lectured to the Corinthians, and that those speeches had become integral parts of the bible.

Who knows how manipulated, lost in translation, or otherwise strayed from original form those chapters are now.

But, it was a pivotal moment for me to realise that certain religious texts, whilst having their fair share of metaphorical chapters, are also in some ways, historic records. At least in part.

I took to reading certain religious chronicles afterward, somewhat perplexed that I would have side-lined these texts simply because they were the highway code for different faiths, the driving of which I had no interest in.

But if they were truly part of human history, how short-sighted of me to ignore the reference material.

The bible quickly became too dry to continue, and I stumbled through half of the old testament before giving up. In hindsight, this is probably where the metaphors are most prevalent, and I should have gone straight to the New Testament. The Koran was mildly more interesting, but I found this a little hard to persevere with, given the modern connotations. The various different writings of this buddha or that over the years were the most stimulating (and arguably universal), but were more philosophical than historic. And though I found these particular offerings super interesting, recourse to this 'religion' generally happens if I am in the mood for a philosophical injection, rather than as a source of human history.

I am too tired to stray into the fine line between religion and philosophy here : ).

Needless to say, whilst delving into the Bible, and arguably the main moral guidance the West has built it's civilisations around for centuries (for more than a millennia even) I stumbled across this quote.

Mathew 7: 13-14.

I heard someone on the radio today referring to the 'path of least resistance'.

It made me a grin a little. Not only does the avoidance of that tie neatly into the Mathew quote, but it strikes a particular chord.

I thought of the crazy travel I undertook as a younger woman, not to the latest sunny destination full of Europeans, but mainly to far flung places to live in mud huts or the like, trying to help with this project, or that. The bizarre decision to leave a perfectly good English medium University in Scotland to relocate to France, studying in Strasbourg in an effort to force myself finally to learn a foreign language.

I have no idea how I made it through that year ; ).

The whole bloody immigration process, fuelled by the belief that I had found the love of my life. The move to Africa in search of a meaning to adulthood that had escaped me in the City, working on a career, and what I had believed to be at the time, a family.

The turn away from pecuniary compensation and ambition, and the move to a rural community to embrace the Canada I had struggled for so long to be a part of; the purchase of a raw piece of nothing, and the since attempts to render this an hospitable place to live.

Building alone; hunting alone; exploring the mountains, alone.

Not taking the path of least resistance.

Sure makes for a richer life, but I have to wonder if it is truly the way.

I stand here before you at a fossilised 31 years old. Having marched through life from one thing to another. Always striving to achieve something, but somehow failing miserably at all the social hallmarks of success.

I am alone, I have no children, I am far from my family, and I live in a wooden rectangle some people presumably still refer to as camping.

I have to question the logic of my life, or the interpretation of those key guiding principles. Push yourself through the tiny holes in the fabric of the world, like an octopus in the ocean; you will be rewarded with that exquisite existence; that oft unfound nirvana; real life, true and honest living. Not shiny, or perfect, of course that is not the expectation.

But rewarding; stimulating; a life that leaves you feeling as if you really tried; you really gave living a shot.

Not just followed the patterns we are trained by culture and tradition to recognise and reiterate. But creating something as unique as we each are. Something that actually feels right; that fits.

Perhaps the pursuit of that narrow path in these adventures, experiences, this hedonistic life (ignoring the negative connotations for a moment) are ironically the downfall.

Drawing you away from normal social interactions that presumably at some point lead to that normalised western life.

I am not saying I covet normality, or any of the recognised hallmarks of the Western success story.

But really, am I destined to ease out my loneliness, the need for human companionship forever by leaning on my friends, goofing around with the dogs, and writing on the latest technology to the hum of a bloody generator?

Good grief.

I am sorry Mum.

Thank God our brother got with the program, and has thoughtfully provided you with an awesome wedding to attend, an extended family, and grandchildren you must have believed was your bloody right, having had four children of your own!

But herein lies the crux.

Whilst I momentarily verbalise this; there is no way in hell I would do anything differently.

I look at other people's lives, and cannot help but wonder where I have gone wrong.

But I also look at my own, and I cannot imagine how I would have built it any differently.

Someone told me once that the trick to happiness is not being able to recognise what you need or would want from life, and chasing it like a leopard does the last antelope in East Africa.

But being able to see your life as it currently is, and being satisfied with it; delighted with it, irrespective of where it takes you.

Ambition gives us direction; there is nothing wrong with that. But it innately makes sense that our lives in the long term are founded on how we respond to our circumstances in the present; now.

And how could we respond the right way, if we are so focused on a pre-determined notion of what our future will be.

Perhaps our real future is something entirely different, but we are too dogmatic to see it.

An interesting, but alarming thought.

How tedious to go marching off in the wrong direction :).

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