When I was a child, I was fascinated by this distant mountain visible from my home. Every so often, the light would fall on it just right such that the peak would glow. I was told it was made of gold, and that there were caves inhabited by fairies who would grant visitors any wish they name. I was told of people who had made it there, that they were so happy they would not even return. And I was also told of people who never made it, and returned never willing to talk about it again. But I was a brave girl, I believed that I would make it. I dreamed of my journey. I dreamed of my list of wishes.
Today is the big day.
I have bought a car, filled up with gas, packed my lunch and snacks. I have earned my freedom at last. I am ready to make my dream come true! I know the road the villagers talked about. It is an easy straight road that aims directly at the mountain. Before sunset I will arrive.
My heart races with excitement. I step on the gas and tear down the road as fast as the car will go. In my mind, I review my childhood images of meeting the fairies, also my grownup speeches about what and why I want for my wish list. It is a beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, not a breeze in the air, but I barely notice. I keep my eyes on that mountain top. I have to focus. Focus on my goal. Focus on my lifelong dream.
There are more trees now beside the road and the mountain top is visible only occasionally. How annoying. The road is starting to wind around and the surroundings are getting hilly. I have been driving for six hours already. When am I going to get there!? Up and down, left and right, here and…
SCREEEEECH!!!! I slam on the brakes. What?!?!? The road narrows, becomes a dirt road, and takes a sharp turn… I have come to the edge of a steep canyon! What is going on?!? Whatever happened to that easy road I was told about, to collect my pot of gold tonight? Decades of hope are thrown out the window in a blink! My dreams are ruined. My life is ruined. I have come too far to go back now. It would be too humiliating to return empty handed. What is happening to me?!?
I have to make a choice now. I can refuse to accept what is in front of me, and continue to live my fantasy from childhood, which would involve jumping across this canyon toward the gold mountain, or more than likely, to my demise. I can go back and blame the ancestral villagers, sulk and live in misery. Or I can just let go of that dream, stay in the moment, navigate the car as best I can, and trust… trust that the road will lead me to something worth living for.
I take a deep breath, and decide on the last option. There is no time for extraneous thoughts now. The sun is setting. I have to keep going. Keep my eyes on the road. Focus on the moment. I slow the car to a crawl.
My dream is shattered. But exactly what changed? Only what is in my head. What is really true? That I am still alive. I am still safe. The car is still running smoothly, with gas in the tank.
The canyon has always been there. Just because I did not know about it, I lived for decades toward a false hope. But none of us can know everything there is to know, does that mean we are always in danger of creating false hopes for ourselves? The greatest source of unhappiness is unfulfilled expectations.
After what seems like an eternity, hours crawling along at 5 mph negotiating hairpin turns, I spot a sign saying, “Viewpoint – Rest Area: 1 mi”. You mean this road was actually put here on purpose?! Amazing! I breathe a sigh of relief.
I step out of the car and stretch. I survived it. There is a glow on the horizon. This viewpoint is lined with trees, and I can faintly see the many fruits on them. That is a miracle! I am so hungry. I pick a couple soft plump ones, and find a nice flat rock to lie back. As I heartily munch on the sweet juicy fruits, I realize that I should not be so surprised by the pleasant discovery. There were many flowering trees along the road yesterday, but in my haste to get to that illusive dream, not only did I not appreciate the trees, I had actually cursed them for hiding my view.
The sun peeks over the horizon. The fog that had settled in the valleys overnight begins to roll and lift. What a magical sight! Whatever thoughts and plans I started this journey on, are but a distant memory now. This is way better. Here I am, safe and sound, sitting on top of the world, enjoying the tasty gifts of nature, watching the gigantic fire ball grow out of the ground. I dare not blink, for I may miss this magic show which the Universe seems to be putting on just for me. There is no one else around. All is quiet. I feel so special. My heart fills with gratitude.
In the distance, I can see where my road is headed. But unlike yesterday, I no longer care about the destination. After a dark night of the soul, I have gotten used to staying in the moment. I like it. Now is the present! I promise I will slow down from here on, and smell the flowers along the way.
The road of life was paved long ago by my divine self. So long as I insist on a certain outcome on this road by my conscious mind, I will live a life of disappointment. But if I let go, accept life in whatever form it comes, trust that all is on purpose and beautiful, life will be miraculous. It is how I take the journey that counts, not where I end up. All is well.