I have long felt that life is like a series of links in a chain. You might be driving down the road and you hear a song on the radio, or see a picture, and you feel a memory…. Something that reminds you of a different time and place than where you are right now.
The memories remind you of a totally different time in your life. Perhaps you lived in a different place. Perhaps you were surrounded by different people. Perhaps a different job or completely different friends.
Our reflection recognizes those memories like frozen moments in time. They become individual links in the chain in our life.
We never actually realize, in the immediate moment, when one link closes and another link begins. But when we look back, we can clearly see distinct points where things changed, the link closed, and a new link began. The links are only visible in reflection.
At the point where the links are joined we carry parts of the previous link forward to the next. For many people those connections are bonded by family, or very strong life long relationships. Connections which continue beyond our geographic moments, jobs or temporary acquaintances.
But for everyone, the primary bonding agent brought forward from one link to the next is ourselves, our center, our values and core principles. Our beliefs.
The strength of the steel which comprises the links of our life is determined by forging in the fire of adversity, weakness, challenge, pain, loss, and painful growth. The steel is then cooled with the tears of triumph, hurdles overcome and resolve.
The forging makes the steel stronger and able to withstand the pressures that accompany the additional length. Slowly the chain becomes wiser as it lengthens. Able to reach further, form more significant benefits and become more useful.
Hope replaces fear. Love replaces loneliness. Success replaces adversity. These are successful links began and finished while contributing to the whole.
At times we may manipulate the links with avoidance. We hide from -or choose to avoid- an issue in our effort to begin a new link before the old one was naturally, and spiritually, prepared to be closed. Eventually as life continues, and the chain lengthens, the weak link can fracture and we are forced to revisit/repair what we originally chose to avoid.
You see, in life we cannot control the universal laws that guide us. So if we manipulate circumstances to avoid confronting our own weakness, we cannot fully strengthen our life of links. Eventually, the weakness of our past will impact our future.
So what do we carry from link to link? What core values and beliefs stay with us throughout the journey of our lives? The answers to these questions are what makes us human spiritual beings.
We possess freewill able to make choices about what we do, and how we define our individual humanity; but can we then define ’right’ and ‘wrong’ according to our individual principles? Or are there principles that exceed our influence and definition?
Are there natural laws of right and wrong, good and bad, that cannot be subjected to the determination of man? These are the bigger questions, perhaps the more important questions, and yet perhaps the ones we reflect upon the least.
A student can skip class, take few notes, pay only half attention, then stay up all night cramming for a test and manage a decent grade. It depends on the students goal: grades or learning.
The student can choose to manipulate the education by avoiding the learning and capturing the grade. This is possible in the ‘Law of the School’.
However, a farmer cannot take short cuts. A farmer cannot avoid tending to the soil, preparing the seed, fertilizing and nurturing the crop, and still gain benefit of an abundant harvest. The farmer must necessarily do all of the appropriate work in order to benefit from it. Such is the ‘Law of the Farm’, the natural law.
When one considers the weakness remaining within a poorly constructed and manipulated link, perhaps established by selfish choices and driven by avoidance and fear, one can be faithfully be assured those who have dealt dishonestly with us will have to visit the issues of their association again. Conversely, no amount of manipulation or avoidance on our own behalf is going to improve the frailty of any link without first resolving the lack of character which created the weakness.
So we have choices in our lives. Decisions we each make regarding how we interact, and participate in the lives and links of others; as well as how we choose to construct the links that compromise our own lives. Do we base our sense of purpose around natural principles? Principles based on natural laws of right and wrong, good and bad, truth and lies.
Do we forge strong links based on following our heart, our values? If we can interact with others absent of a prideful self-driven agenda, or manipulative intent, we can then apply such principles and strength to our endeavors.
If we fertilize and cherish our crop, and the crop of our neighbor, with honesty and sincere appreciation for the souls we meet along our chosen path, we will live a life of abundance.
If we tend carefully to the consideration of everyone, yet holding true to our values and principles, we can strengthen ourselves amid the face of adversity and disenchantment.
If we do not hide from, nor ignore, our individual and collective faults, we can build the chain of our life with strength, humility, and purpose.
I wish for each of you the very best of life. A long chain of bold, strong, beautiful links, polished with the reflective brilliance of Love.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.