Most mornings find me walking down a side street until I reach the entrance of a local park. The paved path gives me the option of traversing the perimeter of the park or taking one of the many branches that veer off at different spots along the way.
In winter conditions, I tend to stick to the same route. Even so, I encounter different challenges in various places. Within minutes one day I went from a clear dry path to a section where I had to pick my way carefully around icy patches, before a coming to some small snow drifts to wade through.
Not only does this keep the walk interesting, I know these kinds of changing conditions also apply to my walk of life. A brisk pace can quickly change to one where I have to watch my step. If I’m careful, I can get through it unscathed.
A few days ago, I had another challenge on my walk. A skimming of snow appeared to give me solid footing. I quickened my pace and was caught unaware by the ice beneath. My foot slipped and my arms instinctively rose to a ninety-degree angle with my body. I felt like a tightrope walker, attempting to maintain my balance. Somehow, I managed to stay upright.
My focus now was entirely on the next safe step to take. Although this sounds like a good thing, it did cause another issue. With my eyes downcast, I wasn’t fully aware of my surroundings. Before I realized it, I emerged at the side of a busy street. The diversion I normally took to my quiet route home had been passed by unawares.
Lately, these winter walks have shown me not only to watch my step but also to look up and appreciate what’s around me so I don’t miss something important.
The previous day’s heavy snowfall had left a large accumulation on our second story deck. We discussed the best way to remove it. If we tossed it by shovelfuls over the deck it would be blown onto the patio of our downstairs neighbour. Definitely not the best idea.
The only option for disposal seemed to be in our bathtub. My husband scooped up a bin full of snow and I carried it inside and dumped it in the tub before returning the bin to him.
We were surprised how many trips this took and how quickly the bathtub was filled. I took a couple of pictures and sent them to family. The caption said, “This is how I have to build a snowman when we don’t have a yard!”
The more I thought about, the better this idea sounded. I told my husband what I was thinking and he encouraged me to do it.
A large chunk of snow at one end of the tub would be perfect for the head. There wasn’t room to roll the snow into balls so I’d have to sculpt it. Maybe I could build it reclining. An idea for this project was forming in my mind. After much thought, I went to the fridge to choose the perfect carrot for Frosty’s nose.
When I returned to the bathroom, I could see that my project was not going to happen. The snow had melted into one solid mass and was no longer moldable. By morning, all that remained were a few leaves and some dirt to remind me what could have been.
I had the opportunity to do something unique and instead of going for it, thought about it until my window of opportunity passed. All my plans and good intentions mean nothing if I don’t act on them.
All is not lost, though. When I have the opportunity to take a chance and do something different, I will think bathtub full of snow and not waste the opportunity.
First, I took all of the pieces out of the box and turned them right side up so I could see what I was working with. Then I separated the edge pieces and built the border or the framework to define the perimeter of the picture.
This was when my analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to life began. I need to examine what I’m working with and know what my boundaries are.
Within this framework are multiple pieces. Some come together quickly. Others require much trial and error before they find their own place. It is quite common to be working on several different areas before discovering how one or two pieces are able to join them together.
I attempt to put similar colours and patterns together. The dark or shadowy ones aren’t as appealing but serve to make the brighter ones even more vibrant. The picture is starting to take shape.
I hold a piece in my hand and think I know where it belongs. It isn’t quite right but I attempt to make it fit. This is where I want it to go, why isn’t it working? If I force it, the space will not be held for the piece meant to go there and the picture will not live up to the potential shown on the box. This is more difficult that I imagined and I wonder if the puzzle is ever going to come together.
I move to a different position to view my work in progress. Another perspective helps me figure out where some of the extra pieces fit. I stand back to take an overall view and am happy with the progress made so far.
My life, like the jigsaw puzzle, still has some pieces to be put into place. The time and effort I put into it now will one day result in a beautiful picture of who I was and how I lived my life.
Partway through an online painting tutorial we were told the next step was to draw a path that later would be surrounded by trees. The instructor demonstrated how to sketch this. Then she said, “Don’t be concerned with your path looking exactly the same as mine. Everyone’s path will be different.”
I paused the lesson in order to catch up on my painting. Her words, however, remained with me.
My path is my own and will not look the same as anyone else’s. How many times have I been concerned about the differences rather than appreciating the unique path I travel? Just because my journey isn’t the same as yours doesn’t make either one of us wrong.
I have experienced frustration and disappointment when I’ve attempted to follow in the exact footsteps of someone I admired and not achieved the same results.
My faulty reasoning said if you were successful, then my success will follow when I duplicate your steps.
I failed to take into consideration that I am not you. My skillset and life experience vary from yours. Our definitions of success may also differ. We can learn from each other and adapt these lessons to create our own unique path.
Sometimes I’m a slow learner. It took me a long time to figure out what was most important to me. Only then could I create a life of abundance and enjoy the diversions rather than striving to reach what I thought my goal should be.
Now I’m creating my path as I travel and it’s taking me to some amazing places. The picture of my life has less stress and is far more colour as it evolves into the work of art it was meant to be.