What did you give up to experience life more fully?
Reflection from ‘The Road Less Travelled’
For the past weeks, I have been reading M Scott Peck’s ‘The Road Less Travelled’.
The readings this week have been about our need to give things up.
“…. for as we negotiate the curves and corners of our lives we must continually give up parts of ourselves.” p 59
and then he gives us this sobering thought,
“The only alternative to this giving up is not to travel at all on the journey of life.”
And if you were wondering why we don’t decide to travel on the journey of life he gives his answer,
“It may seem strange, but most people choose this alternative and elect not to continue with their life journeys — to stop short by some distance — in order to avoid the pain of giving up parts of themselves.”
For those who don't understand why we wouldn’t choose this path, he says that they don’t understand the depth of pain involved in giving up parts of ourselves.
This caused me to reflect and ask myself have I been prepared to give up parts of myself in order to experience the fullness of life?
The first experience that came to mind was when I was 16. I had plunged myself into the politics of Northern Ireland from an early age. At the age of 16, I was confronted by what I saw as inconsistencies and in that moment I decided that I had enough. True it was my own realisation so it wasn’t forced on me but nonetheless to give up meant to give up an emotional connection and some of my identity. What was significant was allowing myself the space to stand back and see. Could it be that oftentimes we become so submerged in something that we lose ourselves?
Another experience that came to mind was giving up religious beliefs. Again perhaps I have been fortunate in that I had an experience that meant I would live differently. In brief, I experienced oneness with everything and during it, I understood that God’s love has no limits. My personal beliefs were revolutionised in that moment.
Strangely as I look back I am glad these occurred for as Peck says life has so much to give that if I hadn't gone with ‘Life’ I would be regretting it now. Giving up beliefs has allowed life to show me its fullness.
The most recent ‘giving up’ is seen in the separation and divorce that occurred between my former partner and me. That was painful in a very different way from the previously recalled experiences. Yet now I see it as another stage along the way of trusting life. I have said to some, “If you want to know about me read my wife’s divorce petition”. In there you will find that I can ruminate, be punitive and withdraw. I don’t disagree and somehow in reading them I have become more conscious of these traits.