I've always heard Paul say when talking about life, “You’ve got to stay in your own lane.“ It’s the same thing as the popular phrase “You do you.“
I love that. Quit worrying about what other people are doing or what they think of you and what you’re doing. Stay in your own lane.
Ralph Waldo Emerson had a couple of thoughts on this matter when he said, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.” He believed people must rely on themselves and live in the way that works for them, not conform to society’s views. It’s a wonderful and truthful ideal, but sometimes it is easy to lose track of.
Some time ago, I was asked to go on a silent retreat. Me? Silent? I’ve had my suspicions as to whether the person who invited me was perhaps drunk at the time or simply out of her mind. The same thing could be said of me when I said yes, albeit hesitantly, but still I said yes.
As the departure date approached, I moved from “this is out of my comfort zone,“ to "this is out of my able zone.“
I’ve heard of prisoners going crazy when they were kept in solitary confinement for protracted periods, but surely I could survive two nights and 2 1/2 days?
There was some major struggling that occurred the first night. By the next morning, I was OK with both the silence and the solitude, but I was still struggling with the “slow down” part.
After a solitary and silent breakfast, I went on a solo hike. It was wonderful, and maybe a little scary since being this alone and this quiet in my day-to-day life is a novel experience. It actually reminds me a lot of my childhood where I would head out into the woods all by myself and stay for hours.
After circling the 110-acre property, I came upon the prayer path. The 14 stations were labeled with Hope, Healing, Forgiveness, etc. The area where each was located had been carefully designed by one of the founding nuns. Our retreat guide described the first one, Courage, as a single chair sitting out in the middle of an opening in the woods. And she was right. It does take courage to sit out in the open. The next was Trust, and I noticed that it faced away from the trail so you couldn’t see who was coming up behind you.
I found myself experiencing the stations in my head instead of with my heart. I was wanting a mountaintop moment, but I found myself trying to solve a riddle instead.
So I buckled down, and I tried to seriously dive into serenity and stillness. I came to the next station which was Listen. I could hear the river gurgling, and I could see a glimpse of it just down the hill. And that’s when it happened.
I immediately got so excited I took off running down the hill to get to the water's edge. And beside the swing overlooking the river was the sign that said Clarity. And that’s exactly right.
That’s when it hit me. I was so focused on having a solemn, serene experience like everyone else seemed to be doing, that I was missing my own experience. I was created with a kid-like enjoyment (which sounds so much better than immature). This is the way I’m made, the way I operate. Trying to conform to what was working for other people just made me miss out on what worked for me.
So while I would love to have had a moment where I slowed down, where the skies opened, and the heavens shone light on me, I realized that that isn’t what works for me. So I’m going to stay in my own lane and enjoy the wonder and clarity I find in my own way, which probably will include skipping down the path.