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Wellness Journey with Joe

Week 13 - The Journey

Week 13 - The Journey





The Journey
by Mary Oliver


One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice –

though the whole house began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

Each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations.

Though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do –

determined to save

the only life you could save.


What a fabulous and appropriate poem by Mary Oliver for where we are at this point in our Wellness Journey.  You may have found yourself at this junction in the past and feel you successfully already did “what you had to do.”  And you probably did!  Because doing what you have to do comes up again and again in life.  So often we find our behavior slipping back into the realm of expectations instead of what is best for us, so that it is good to be reminded that we are susceptible to the old tug.

One day you finally knew… – That day is today!  Maybe for the first time or the fiftieth.

 “Mend my life!” Each voice cried. – too many times those who influence us can impose too much of their own needs and frustrations onto us.  Beware!

 …though the wind pried… at the very foundations.  It is not easy to set yourself free.

 …there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own.

 …to save the only life you could save.  You see, you’re no good to anyone if you’re not healthy yourself.  Just as others may have expectations of us that can lead to unhealthy behavior, an unhealthy you risks imposing your frustrations on to others.  You have an obligation to the positive evolution of our species to find the creativity that is YOU, and express that.  THAT is the gift you give your children, your co-workers, your neighbors, the world.

So where are we now?

Well, now you realize that you were born into this world dependent upon others to teach you how to live.  These influences shaped your current belief systems.  These belief systems are based on a finite amount of information and can be limited by the maturity of our teachers, whether they be parents, school teachers or preachers, or any other influence. 

I'm not saying to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  I'm not saying you need to disregard what you've been taught.  I'm just saying there needs to come a time in our lives when we must be open to change when feel that something doesn't sit right with what we believe to be right.  At some point you need to follow your own voice as you dig down and address your daily activities, relationships, and issues.  New learning and seeking advice is wise, but ultimately it is you who needs to make the decision.

Dare I expose myself here and give you an example from my own life?  Well, as a child I grew up attending Catholic schools.  As a result of what I was taught I grew to become quite homophobic; believing that this "alternative" lifestyle was against God's will.  (Quite ironic since many of those teaching me were homosexual themselves.)

After becoming a chiropractor I naturally I began treating patients from  all walks of life, including homosexuals.  I came to realize that homosexuality was not a choice.  When I allowed myself to question my belief systems empathy for began to take over.  The empathy I felt, another irony, was the empathy I had learned and developed from my Catholic upbringing!  (Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!)  Subsequently I grew as an individual and released myself from that very heavy and unneccesary burden.

Please remember, you not only have a RIGHT to think for yourself, but you have an OBLIGATION to humanity if you want to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

 What a cool opportunity we've been given in this life!

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