Near the end of his “Four Quartets,” the poet T.S. Eliot says this:
“We shall not cease from exploration
“And the end of all our exploring
“Will be to arrive where we started
“And know the place for the first time.
“Through the unknown, unremembered gate.”
In this paradox of discovering that which we have known and will know better, this poem very aptly describes what I am experiencing at the end of high school.
Having begun with the rush of learning, heavy investment in worthy causes, and fascination with the curiosities of personality, high school concludes by readying me for the very same thing.
It doesn’t seem to stop in college either. There always will be the next upcoming test, whether it be a final for math, a promotion to earn, or deadline to meet.
Not only that, but the “passions” that we so embraced at the start are mere shades of the vibrant pulses that once colored our life. There is a lot of advice floating around out there that recommends following such passions, not taking into account the very message within the word ‘passion’ (Pass-I-On, eh?).
Our talents, however, seem to have taken a much more consistent form, even to the point of becoming our passions. Even if the talent is the ability to throw your all into something, study hard, or interact well with others, there are opportunities abounding for those simply willing to do what it takes to get on their feet; no matter if it takes working a job they dislike for the time being.
The funny things about many success stories is that they happen when the individual is busy. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series while training as a teacher, and Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook while a student. Post-It notes were invented by an office worker who simply had an idea that caught on.
Were incredible risks taken and hard failures involved? Sure. The point is that these individuals had already been cultivating their talents when they found their “passion.”
In summary, these same difficulties we have in high school are enlarged as we grow with our talents and age. Suddenly the final presentation for your grade is a presentation for your boss; and we are right back where we started, still challenged and yet more knowledgeable.
Similarly, the persistence and hardship imbued in trying to do the right thing, the importance of balancing the extreme views, and the diverging paths – these things linger about the trail of our journey, always present and rarely apparent.
How are we to deal with this reality of familiar yet unknown paths we walk? Why are our lives called journeys; and if they are such ventures, then what will be the destination?
Such are the questions that occur naturally at our point in life. Fortunately for us, we aren’t the first to try and figure out this journey. In hopes of orienting ourselves, it seems that we must pursue truth and goodness in a calm, collected manner to figure out this trek.
I’ve already shared that I walked around 70 miles over the course of the summer, and I typically took the same 10-mile trail. With the purpose of the Hiking merit badge in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the same trail was strikingly different each time I traversed it.
Whether it be the bird that hopped behind me and my dad for 20 minutes, the tarantula couple that waved their hairy arms, or simply the quiet, companionable silence with a good companion, there was without fail something new on the familiar trail.
It was the little delights in these variations and new acquaintances that made the same trail more and more interesting, though I knew the direction and terrain by memory. I had purpose, motivation and good friends – what else could I ask for?
Let’s treat life the same! To ensure a good hike, we’ll need a worthy destination, passions, and good traveling companions to trust in this arduous path. In appreciating the little things, we will find that what we believed the same trails are wholly new journeys entirely.
This will be my last column for The Friday Flyer, and I thank Mrs. Sharon Rice and the staff for the diligence and steadfast work on this project for Canyon Lake. This opportunity has been truly a delightful adventure.
So, as you walk this wonderful, mysterious path of life, I wish you the same farewell that the good Tom Bombadil did in “The Fellowship of the Ring” to the hobbits:
“Be bold, but be wary! Keep up your merry hearts, and ride to meet your fortune!”