Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The path we are on leads us to who we are

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMasters Bujold, pp. 404-405

Regret . . . And what if she and Miles had met at twenty, instead of she and Tien? It had been possible; she'd been a student at the Vorbarra District University, he'd been a newly minted officer in and out of the capital. If their paths had crossed, might she have won a less bitter life?

No. We were two other people, then. Traveling in different directions: their intersection must have been brief, and indifferent, and unknowing. And she could not unwish Nikki, or all that she had learned, not even realizing she was learning, during her dark eclipse. Roots grow deep in the dark.

She could only have arrived here by the path she'd taken and here, with Miles, this Miles, seemed a very good place to be indeed. If I am his consolation, he is most surely mine as well. She acknowledged her years lost, but there was nothing in that decade she needed to circle back for, not even regret; Nikki, and the learning, traveled with her. Time to move on.

I've read so many times that we are to be grateful for the path we are on because it brings us to who we are today. I've never felt reassured by that for a couple of reasons. One is that I didn't particularly like where I was at anyway and the other is that I've always seen, at the time, what more I could be. And I've never measured up one way or the other. As I read this book I can see what it means though. I've watched this character grow. He took risks physically and in relationships to be the best Miles he could be. I've read one book after another in the series until I feel I know him as a person. I've seen him make what he considers mistakes, read his concerns in his own voice, and have also seen the wonderful strength and character he has. This is the first time in my life I can see that the path they were on led them to be the people they are today and that they are perfect for each other now.

So, one thing I take from my own experience in reading this book is that it's really worth it to allow myself to be everything I feel I can be right now. To stretch into myself. I think I would be happier with myself. It would be tremendously helpful to me to see myself in a better light. Instead of looking at what I feel I'm doing wrong, look at the things that feel right to me. To see myself on a journey in life in which I will always be learning and trying something new, but of inestimable worth right here and now. That would be how I would like to see myself.

The other thing I take from reading this book is that learning comes to us in innumerable ways. I'd love to write like Bujold does. To entertain, to tell a story, but also to illuminate life in a delightful way that invites the reader into the transformation of the characters. I've gone to movies like that, too, where I felt different after watching. Where I learned as the characters learned. High art: fun, delight, entertainment and being a part of the flow of love and light that nutures and encourages others to love themselves and be all they are meant to be.

And now I do think that the path that we are on leads us to who we are, but it isn't the path that defines me, I define the path. By allowing myself to risk living my hopes and dreams, I create a different path than trying to fit in or do the right thing. A path of adventure that I want to explore. The most mysterious universe is inside us.


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