When I was a kid I would always ask my father numerous questions about why things were the way they were. “Why did you do that?” “Where are you going?” Why did you name me Isaac?” The list of questions was endless as I had, and still have, an insanely inquisitive mind. Despite the seriousness in my voice when asking questions, my father would always jokingly reply, “Because ‘y’ has a long tail!” We would both laugh hysterically and my question would go unanswered. I guess this was his way of temporarily quelling my thirst for knowledge. As an adult I still wonder about various things as if I were a child all over again and pose questions to myself. Instead of getting my father’s canned response, I often answer my own question by stating “That’s just the way it is.” Just as in my childhood, I’ve never been satisfied with this response.
It’s funny how we as people can live our lives following traditional paths. As children, most of us were taught to pursue education and eventually a career. Being the well-behaved children we were, we pushed hard through high school and college to land the treasured JOB. Well, I can’t speak for everyone but that’s what I did, largely without questioning. There are many people that took non-traditional routes to achieve their dreams. Some of them succeeded, but many more are as lost as they were the day they began their life pursuit. Those who ventured down the road less trodden were deemed risk-takers by the masses.
Now that it’s my turn to be a parent, I intend to teach my son to be very inquisitive, and question everything. As annoying as it may be for me, I want him to realize that the path others have defined for him doesn’t have the be the path he chooses to follow. Instead of blindly focusing on goals others set for you, the better approach would be to ask why and then focus on determining the path you should follow. Adhering to my parent’s advice led me down that path where I could achieve success. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been successful by going against the grain and blazing my own trail.
One day, while pondering my life experiences, the proverbial light bulb when off. I realized that my various experiences were merely pieces of a puzzle. When I was a child, I took great pride in my ability to solve complex puzzles. I would dump all of the pieces on the table and attempt to create piles full of related pieces. Even with the puzzle pieces scattered across the table, I was still able to visually link them together. Applying my puzzle-solving logic to life allowed me to realize that my various experiences represented scattered puzzle pieces that fit somewhere in the bigger picture of my life’s journey.
We are often bewildered by the various events that take place during our life. Some events are joyous occasions, while others remind us of the worst aspects of life. Regardless, the experience we gain from dealing with various events can be simply viewed as another puzzle piece added to the picture of our life. Now that I am in my thirties, I’ve come to understand how certain experiences in my past fit into the overall puzzle. Some of these experiences are cumulative to a degree, and serve to prepare us for something greater that we may not yet understand.
With this perspective in mind, as we go about our daily lives, we must seek to understand how each of our experiences fit into the collective picture of our lives. While that picture may never be fully complete, focusing on the linkages between the various experiences can aid in achieving a level of clarity. I truly believe that we all have a destiny to fulfill, and that the experiences we gain through life are intended to bring us closer to understanding our purpose. If we fail to fit the pieces of our life together, we may miss out on seeing the big picture. So, the next time you experience something amazing, or heartbreaking, take a moment to think about how that experience fits into the bigger picture. Try your best to understand what you are supposed to gain from that experience, and how it can be applied as you move forward in life. It is then that we can truly understand not only who we are, but what we are destined to become.