The journey in between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life takes place.
- Barbara De Angelis
Popular culture frequently serves up inspiring examples of greatness being birthed from a crisis. Steve Jobs is guttered after being kicked out of the very company he created. He gets back on his feet, then later returns to take it from mediocrity to a world-beater. Malala gets shot by a Taliban gunman after speaking up for the rights of girls to get an education. She survives and becomes the poster child for equality and female empowerment before going on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. While crises can serve to shock us out of our lethargy or lack of direction, most of us are more familiar with what can be called dying slowly.
The journalist Bill Moyers once shared, “A man said to me once after years of standing on the platform of the subway, ‘I die a little bit down there every day.’”
Brazilian poet Martha Medeiros captured this human tendency toward ‘lives of quiet desperation’ in her poem “Die Slowly”:
“He who becomes the slave of habit,
who follows the same routines every day,
who does not talk to people he doesn’t know dies slowly.
You start dying slowly
If you avoid to feel passion
And its turbulent emotions;
Those which make your eyes glisten
And your heart beat fast.
He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy,
who is unhappy at work,
who does not risk certainty for uncertainty,
to thus follow a dream,
those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives,
Let's avoid death in small doses,
reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.
Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness.”
Many of us seem to await an epiphany or eureka moment when it comes to finding our direction in life. Medeiros prefers the concept of ‘burning patience.’ It flies in the face of the idea that clarity strikes like lightning.
Spending a day with us in the outdoors is an opportunity to spark and stoke the fire of your own burning patience when it comes to your vocational direction. In addition to discussions which get to the heart of the issues surrounding your career and life purpose, there are journaling exercises and stretches of walking in silence, all which foster the sense of a pilgrimage to discover your centre.
Another potent point the poet makes is around the importance of leaving your ordinary environment and routines. There is something about being in the wilds of nature that helps us unfurl our tightly held beliefs and limited view of ourselves. While working for an organisation that takes people on outdoor expeditions I saw this effect again and again. This article lists just a few of the benefits from taking a hike and escaping one's familiar world:
When it comes to taking the plunge toward individuation, the question isn’t whether you’re experiencing crisis or slow death, the question is whether or not you’ll take action. Perhaps a Walk on the Rewild side is the catalyst you’re in need of when it comes to the attainment of a splendid happiness.