This week I have thought a lot about the paths we take. We take paths all the time. All day long. Every day. In fact, it seems to me, that we are nothing but travellers of paths. Paths to work. Paths home. Paths to the bathroom. Paths to the bedroom. Paths to anywhere we want to be. Paths from everywhere we have been. And paths to everywhere we don't want to go. Connections. Strings. Sometimes I feel like I blaspheme against humanity in the worst possible way when I make the assumption that we humans are, in the end, nothing more than a great bivouac of flesh merging and converging upon systematic paths. Wandering around for food. For mates. For friends. For foe. What do you think? Are we more than a biological mass? Are we driven by more than mere biological mechanics? I should hope so. I really would like to think so. It is tempting to think small. It would excuse almost any behaviour if we did subscribe to that assumption, wouldn't it? I feel like my path is very important, however. I can't excuse myself that way. Right now, I feel like I am larger than life. Every step I take truly matters. Gravity is the word that comes to mind when I think of my path. I can't reconcile my spirit to the theory that humanity is nothing more than a biomass crawling from path to path. I don't know exactly what my calling is in God's mind, but I do know I have one and it's important to me to figure out what and where it is. I want my feet to be ever moving towards my True North.
My husband and I took our kids out for a hike on Sunday. We walked the ever-beloved Irving Nature Park in Saint John, which is a bustling little hive (another bio-mass?) of people who come and go and walk and run and jog and hike and bike. People bring dogs, bring friends, bring coffees, bring mountain bikes, bring bags of day-old-bread (to feed the chickadees), bring their phones, bring nothing at all. And then they walk and move. And get going. I like that. People choose their path and off they go. It may led into the deep woods. It may lead to a steep cliff overlooking a tiny beach. It may lead around the perimeter of the park. We chose the path that led to the marshes. Then we turned around and chose the path that led to some chickadees and some seals off in the distant water. It was a wonderful day.
Sunday was relatively warm and there were hints of sunlight here and there. Today (Thursday as I write this) is a cold and rainy day here in the city of Saint John. It is windy and the rain pelts you in the face if you point yourself in the wrong direction. It was not a day that I would typically emerge from the cocoon of home on. I did emerge, however, and went to the beach. My path lead me there. I chose it. I wasn't forced to go there (again), but I did and I was glad I did. I once again witnessed the waves crashing on the beach. Right now there is what we Canadians refer to as a Nor'Easter moving through our region and with that comes nasty winds and weather. It's great if you love wave action. I wanted to see and hear those crashing waves so I moved along my path until it landed me right in front of them. Freedom. How we take it for granted.
I guess I am carrying on about paths because I wanted to remind myself that the things that happen in this world--the violence and the hatred or the love and the joy--are are results of the paths we choose. Here in Canada, one person's path led them to their death while doing their job and another person's path lead them to murder that same person in the last few days. It was horrific, but only one of several violent events that have occurred here lately. In these ways, violence blooms outwardly and seemingly at random. It reminds me of mushroom spores. Once they are out in the air they flow and move and land and take root and nobody knows for sure when and where they will pop up (another reference to the biology of our humanity. Is it really that simple, I wonder?) Anyway, this event will go down in history as the Ottawa Shooting. I don't want to talk too much about this event simply because everyone else already is. I need a break from it and so do you, I suspect, dear reader. Google it if you want to learn more.
Another story I came across was a beautiful wedding of a lesbian couple here in New Brunswick. I don't know these women personally, but I do know some beautiful symmetry in photography when I see it and I saw it here. My path lead me across these images. Their paths lead them to each other. Beautiful. To me it is anyway. So, it's not all always bad (unless gay marriage offends you and if it does maybe this blog is not for you). I take comfort in this. If love rang out with the intensity of hatred, we would have heard about this wedding on CNN. Or maybe Global news, at least? But, we didn't. We didn't because, we all seem to forget, the news industry is a business focused on earning money before it is anything else. Stories about a graceful and beautiful lesbian weddings aren't going to push the dollars around. So, it's up to us to choose a path that leads a little farther from the main stream. It's up to us to seek out these beautiful things in this world. It's up to us to even bring it to the attention of others, if we can. Ugliness will always exist and it will constantly be thrust into our line of vision whether we want it to be or not. It's not hard to find. But there is beauty, too. Beauty isn't hard to find either. Not really. We have to look a little harder for it, unfortunately. My advice to the world... no--my prayer for the world--is that we might seek out the beauty and the joy that thrives all around us. It is there just waiting to be noticed.