Not long ago, I headed to Indian Lake Park for a hike. In addition to being a beautiful place to clear my head, the park held other treasures, particularly an old beat-up sign with an excerpt of Corinne Roosevelt Robinson's poem, "The Path that Leads Nowhere":
Other pathways lead to Somewhere, But the one I love so well Has no end and no beginning-- Just the beauty of the dell, Just the wind-flowers and the lilies Yellow-striped as adder's tongue, Seem to satisfy my pathway As it winds their scents among.
All the ways that lead to Somewhere Echo with the hurrying feet Of the Struggling and the Striving, But the way I find so sweet Bids me dream and bids me linger, Joy and Beauty are its goal,— On the path that leads to Nowhere I have sometimes found my soul!
In our current society, so dominated by hyper-competition and outcomes-based thinking, I was thrilled to come upon a message of relaxing into the present, without struggling or striving.
When I am mindful enough to pause in my daily life, I am amazed at how often I am working hard at some goal: checking tasks off my to-do list, hiking for "x" number of time, engaging in some self-improvement project, and on and on and on...
Being productive is not a problem, but the anxiety driving that productivity surely does not contribute to an abundance of joy and ease. So I like Robinson's words. They suggest that a sense of well-being requires presence, stillness, and gratitude. I will also take the liberty of translating "finding my soul" into realizing that we are more than the sum of our parts. As Tara Brach wrote, "In the moments that we move through life realizing that we belong to this mystery, that this mystery is living through us, we are awake, alive and free."