Walking with Giants
Wow. We’ve been on a road trip for the past week and a bit, listening to The Alchemist as we go. We just finished it and our minds are still taking in what we just listened to.
If you’ve never read it, it’s the story of a simple shepherd boy who goes on a great journey to discover his personal legend. He meets some interesting characters on his travels, finds love and learns some valuable truths along the way. The boy encounters many obstacles along his journey, but spoiler alert, each of those obstacles teaches him some deep truth about life and love, and in the end, he winds up right back where he started from, but much richer because of the journey.
If you’ve never read it I highly recommend you do. There were many times that either Glenn or I said “Back that up, I need to hear that again” and we had some great conversations about what we heard. I think it’s the kind of book that shows you something different every time you read it.
It’s the story of life, isn’t it? We can choose to play it safe and not take any risks, never step out on our own journey and life can be fine. But it’s the struggle, the failures and picking yourself up and starting again that gives depth and meaning to life. It’s the heartache, pain and struggle that adds a richness to life that just wasn't there before.
We spent the day yesterday driving through the Avenue of the Giants. It’s a road through part of the Redwood Forest in California and it’s absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. We got out and stopped quite a few times, just breathing in the fresh air of the forest and I found myself imagining what it was like thousands of years ago when those trees were little saplings. It’s easy to believe in magic in a place like that and there were a few times when I imagined hobbits and fairies running across the forest floor. After all, if they can travel to Mordor why couldn’t they have travelled to Northern California? I could imagine giant dinosaurs roaming around millions of years ago and our ancient ancestors finding shelter there too.
We read about how the roots of the redwoods don’t go that deep, but they travel out and away from their base for a hundred feet or more. They release gallons of oxygen and water into the atmosphere daily and provide protection and nourishment to the animals, plants and earth around them. They’re the Giants of the Earth, the Grande Dammes of the forest (I'm not sure if I spelled that right and Siri was no help).
What a great metaphor for us humans, because we can be giants too. It’s just a choice. I can choose to put goodness and nourishment into the world around me and to do my part to make the world a better place, or I can choose to feel let down by life and allow bitterness, fear and anger to rule. Before I do that I need to be rooted and grounded, but that doesn’t happen without going on a journey or two of my own.
After we finished listening to the story of the Alchemist we talked about all the crazy things we’ve done in our lives and some of the things that have grabbed us by the scruff of the neck and forced us to turn in a different direction. All of our experiences, both individually and together, all of the decisions we made and the times that we’ve fallen flat on our faces and had to pick ourselves up and start over have made us who we are now. We have roots and have some wisdom and insight that we wouldn’t have otherwise, just like those trees. I felt the wisdom and knowledge that they’ve gained over the centuries, through fires and floods, and they’re still standing straight with their faces turned toward the sun and arms reaching out to those around them. Our Indigenous people believe that they are the spirits of our ancestors, and I felt that yesterday. Glenn and I are not rich by any means, but we are RICH.
Suddenly I see all of my past mistakes and the decisions that I made when I was young in a different light. I’m not ashamed or angry anymore, I’m just thankful and overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude for the journey. Interestingly enough, the journey has brought us right back to where we started from, and just like the shepherd boy, we are finding our treasure there.