The courage to take a new path

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The poem below was read at the beginning of a meditation in the Shrine Room on the retreat I went to at the weekend.  It made such utter sense to me!  It summed up my life so perfectly.  Talking with others, it made sense to them too. Some felt that they were still walking down the same path and falling down the hole whilst others felt that, at least, they were climbing out more quickly.

There needs to be several things in place to be able to choose to walk down another path.  There has to be the recognition that we keep choosing the same path which leads us to the the same place, to fall down the same hole, to make the same mistakes over and over.  We must have the knowledge that we can do more than just skirting around the hole; to know that the same problems will continue to arise for as long as we continue down the same route, travel the same course.  We must understand that there is another way even if it is hidden by social convention, our ignorance, our fears.  We must have the courage to take another path.  We have to be aware that there will be people, things, events that we will leave behind on the old path.  Most people will stay where they are. Things will look different on the new path, a lot of them will not be of any use or will be an hindrance.  New events / outcomes will result from taking a new way.   We must want to take the new path enough to look for it and learn how to navigate it.  We may even have to create some of that path for ourselves; it might not yet fully exist.  Most of all we must have the courage to take this new path, to walk where we have never even considered walking before, to walk away from what is known, to face the fear of the new.

We can ask ourselves how much we have given up because of fear?  How have we tried to protect ourselves from all that is threatening to who we believe ourselves to be, from all that is outside whatever small comfort zone we’ve created for ourselves?  How has it felt to live in this degree of defendedness?  Everything we long for is beyond the wall of fear”  

(Kathleen Dowling Singh)

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson


I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


I walk down another street.

Any thoughts?