"It is better to travel well than to arrive."
(attributed to The Buddha)
I've been thinking a lot about journeys lately, having just returned from a very transformative one earlier this month. But I've also been thinking of the other journeys that we find ourselves traveling throughout the course of our lives, the ones that don't necessarily require cars, trains, or planes. The journey of our soul/spirit. The journey that we take step-by-step, breath-by-breath, moment-to-moment.
John and I have delightful neighbors, a 90 year old couple named Mr. and Mrs. C. Last Tuesday, Mrs. C. fell while getting up after a nap and she broke her hip. She was fine in all respects except for the pain in her hip. Before the EMT's wheeled her out of her house, she calmly reminded her son to "please make sure you finish the stew", and off she went. The next day, as doctors were preparing her for surgery to repair the bones, she passed away. Although Mrs. C. was 90 years old and had led a very long life, the news still came as a shock. It was so unexpected and sad.
Mrs. C. and her husband had been married for 70 years (yep-70!). They have five grown children and many grand and great-grandchildren. Mr. C. is a World War II veteran and a life-long military man. They've had many, many years of exciting travels, and experiences. One of the most poignant aspects of this story is how well regarded Mrs. C. was by the many people who knew her. At her funeral services the words sweet, loving, loyal, calm, and caring, kept coming up again and again by those who stood up to speak about her. She had a very long and fruitful journey in this life, and by all accounts she traveled well. She left a lasting legacy of calm abiding to her family and friends.
We get on our mat or meditation cushion so that we can open our eyes, hearts and minds to all of the conditions of happiness available to us in any given moment. What we begin to awaken to is that our journey through life is what we make it. We can choose to see the beauty of the scenery around us, or we can create a desolate vision of what's around us. Ultimately the question is: When the journey ends, will you be able to say that you traveled well?
Our dedicated practice teaches us how to travel well. The twists, turns, and straight highways, back roads and trails of our life teach us that no matter what lies in our path, we have the capacity to find and deeply touch peace. The journey is not always easy, in fact it is sure to be arduous at times, but peace is available with each step, breath and moment.
Take the time to enrich your travels.
Until next time....
by Thich Nhat Hanh
Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.
Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.
Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and ouch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.
Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.