My friend Brian and I were hiking in the woods today when we came to a place where the path split in two. To the left was a graveled, well-defined, well-traveled path that obviously led back to the asphalt loop around the reservation. To the right was the muddy, slightly icy footpath. It was time to make a decision.
“Which way should we go?” I asked.
“Hmm” Brian said.
“Two roads diverged….” I began.
“…in a wood…” he replied.
“So I guess we should choose the less traveled road?”
“I guess so. It looks pretty muddy and slushy, though.”
We stood at the crossroads, and looked for the good way. As we looked down the muddy trail I noticed someone moving.
“There’s a guy down there with his dog,” Brian said “and there’s no one on the gravel path.”
“No there isn’t.”
“So I guess that makes the gravel path the road less traveled, right now.”
“Yes. Yes it does.”
“So let’s take that one!”
I think that made all of the difference. We traveled along the now less traveled but usually more traveled path, and our shoes stayed clean. I think it was the right path to choose.
I’ve been reading/talking/thinking a lot about dharma this week. Dharma is the “right path” and the “righteous path”. Each person’s dharma is different. Your gifts lead you to your dharma, your purpose in life. And when you are on the right path, the righteous path, you light up. People are happiest, most fulfilled, when they are following their dharma, and they usually suffer to some degree when they go against it.
There was a time when advancing my career was a big part of my dharma. My job fulfilled me. It set me on fire. I knew I was on the right path. Then I had children. And I struggled to reconcile my love of work with being a mom.
I was at a crossroads, and being a mother was my road less traveled. I reluctantly changed direction and left my job. I continued to wrestle with the decision even after it was made. I kept turning around and looking back for that other road. When I did finally embrace this new idea of motherhood fully and completely, I realized it was my choice to suffer or to shine. Devoting myself to my family became my new path, my new dharma.
For some time now spreading yoga everywhere I go has been my dharma. But I can see the road diverging up ahead yet again. There are still more choices to be made.
Dharma, like all things, is changeable. We have to be willing to change paths, to realign. We have to realize that whichever path we choose becomes our dharma. Then we have to accept that (which is easier said than done sometimes) and continue along.
Dharma is the path we are on at any given moment. The path right now.
This path is my dharma. This moment is my dharma.