You’ve heard the phrase “Life is a walk in the park.” Well, my friends, I have come to the conclusion that this saying is true. I was getting off the Luas at St. Stephen’s Green when I suddenly decided to take a turn around the park, since it’s one of my favourite places in Dublin and it’s been far too long since I’ve gone inside. It was as I was walking around the park that the above phrase sprung to mind, and as I walked further and further around the park I discovered the metaphor to be quite poignant.
See, we enter a park like we enter life. It’s something new, exciting, and unexplored; and everything around us catches our attention. We don’t know where to look or go, but anywhere we look or go promises to delight our senses.
We enter the park on a path, but as we walk along, we start to notice paths shooting off into various directions and the choice is ours whether we stick to the path we entered on or veer off and try something new. Sometimes we choose a certain path because it’s obvious what’s coming up; sometimes we choose a path because we have no idea what’s around the bend and the surprise is what we want. Sometimes we miss a path and then backtrack to see what was there all along. But even if we choose a path expecting to go in a certain direction, another path may catch our eye and we meander somewhere completely different than we thought we’d be just a few steps ago. Of course, sometimes that surprise turn becomes a shortcut and we end up exactly where we thought we’d be. Or not. Heck, sometimes we even leave the path behind completely and begin walking along great expanses of grass or in amongst the trees, enjoying the rough ground beneath our soles.
And just as there are several paths in this park of life, there are just as many people, all wandering around, exploring what this park has to offer. Some people, we find, walk in the same direction as we. Others, the opposite way. Many we never come into contact with, but there are always some we do. Those we encounter we can stop and chat with, briefly or for a long while; or we might even begin walking in the same direction, either to separate at a crossroads, or walk with until we leave the park. Some people inspire us to take a different path than we originally thought; others bar our way and we are forced to find a different way to get where we want to go. Regardless, the people we meet (or don’t) shape how our walk progresses.
No doubt, if we’ve been walking for a while, we get tired. Luckily, we can always take a break, whether that be on a bench, a rock, or even the grass, provided there isn’t a sign that says we can’t go there. But how we respond to these ‘rules’ also reflect our walk in the park. Sometimes we follow them; sometimes we ignore them. Whether we get away with our misdemeanor, or suffer the consequences and are booted out earlier than we wanted shape our experiences, and others, if our mistake affects them.
Which brings me to my next point: care. Some parks have bins and others don’t. How clean we keep our park determines how long it will last and therefore how long we will last. It is much easier to enjoy walking in the park if we care for it as we care for ourselves and others.
Finally, when we’ve seen and experienced what we’ve wanted to, when the time is right, we leave the park. Hopefully we don’t regret where we went, what we saw, and who we encountered, rather feel blessed for the experiences we had as we did our turn. But if we do, maybe we can muster up enough energy to go back and change those regrets into blessings; we never know when we get a chance to redo part of our walk. And maybe then we can finally take that final stride and walk out the exit, back to where we started.
Peace for a lovely weekend!