The Art of Reflection
It’s no surprise that for most of us life is hard. The majority of us are not born into the lap of wealth and luxury, with the biggest decisions we make on a regular basis being what we will wear or which car we will drive. For most of us life is a series of struggles. Sometimes we get breaks along the way, sometimes we get a break at the end of our lives. Some of us never get breaks. I know I struggle a lot. Sometimes I feel like all I do is beat my head against the wall. But sometimes after a lot of beating my head against the wall, I get a break through. Sometimes I don’t. But I am beginning to learn (the hard way of course) how to handle those times when I feel like I am beating my head against the wall.
When I was a kid, my grandmother had an end table where she kept coloring books, crayons, and games for the grandkids to play with. I can remember many times sitting down with a coloring or activity book and a package of twist up crayons (they were my favorites because they kept a fine tip and I could create much more detail with my coloring- yes even then I was into detail in my artwork) and find a page to work on. Sometimes it was a coloring page, sometimes it was a maze or connect the dot picture. I liked both mazes and connect the dots, because I was always up for a challenge and because I liked seeing the picture appear in the connect the dot pictures. But they both had one thing in common- you were supposed to start at START and end at END and work through them methodically and sequentially. Mazes could especially be challenging though and sometimes I would get stuck, especially at a dead end. As I got older though, I realized there was a much easier way to work mazes- by starting at END and working the maze backwards. The path then became incredibly clear, and I could finish a maze in mere seconds with little to no errors.
Life is like a maze in a lot of ways. But the problem is we can’t really see the end, or even know what general direction it is in. We may have a good idea of where we think END is, and we can even plan with END in mind (with retirement plans, financial, and personal goals) which help to make the path a little clearer, but this doesn’t eliminate all the twists, turns, and dead ends that we might face along the way. We also can’t work it backwards. We are forced to start at START. But this doesn’t mean we can’t apply the working backwards principles to it to make it a little easier to navigate.
The thing that I have figured out when I get tired of beating my head against the wall in the maze of life, that in my feeling of defeat, I turn around and sit down. This sounds like giving up, and can feel like it is, but I have realized that this actually allows me to do something very important-reflect. This reflection allows me to get a little rest and regain some strength. It also allows me to see how far I have come, which can be very encouraging. It also allows me to see different paths that I may have over looked.
Sometimes we are so hell bent on getting to our destination (speaking from experience here) we overlook different ways to get there. Sometimes we want to a shortcut- like the interstate or freeway- to get there. (Sometimes our destination is not at all where we think because we set the bar too low for ourselves and God has something much better in store for us- but that is a discussion for another time.) Often, we are so focused on going in a certain direction, that we lose track of where we are. Have you ever been driving on the interstate and get so focused on the driving that you miss your exit? If so, then you know exactly what I am talking about. Your only option is to take the next exit and reroute your trip, or turn around and go back to the exit you missed. Either way, realizing you are no longer going the way you want to go requires you to reflect on where you have been and regain focus of where you are going. In business, this is called pivoting. It’s why it is a good businesses practice to do reviews regularly to see what is working and what is not. It’s also very effective in our lives. A pivot can be something as minor as realizing a piece of furniture just does not work where it is placed, or as major as realizing that a job is just not working out for you any more, or that you need to make some major financial decisions like the purchase or sale of a vehicle or home in order to find something that serves you better. Maybe you have changed your mind on your destination completely and need to head a completely different direction. ( I think this is what a “mid-life crisis” is.)
Where are you beating your head against the wall? Are you tired of fighting? Turn around and sit down. Take a break and catch your breath. Look around you. Is there a different path you overlooked? Are you even on the right road? Do you still want to get to your original destination?
Don’t be afraid to go another route or take the long way to get to your destination, or even change your destination altogether. The scenery is usually better on the backroads anyway.
Hello! I’m Amanda Griffey. Farm wife, homeschool mama, and artist. I love farm life and all the unique blessings it allows. It’s the inspiration for me to caputure the heART of the farm.