Rather than seeing our lives as a linear progression, we should embrace the pathless path. 7

from book

Sometimes life is all set out: success, a family, a beautiful house. But then – crash – we find that this isn’t enough. The life we’ve carefully made, with its routine and certainties, has stifled us. So how do we find ourselves again? We need to embrace not-knowing. Take the author’s story. From journalist to magazine editor to venture capitalist, he’d moved from one thing to another, always having to know his next move professionally. Without pausing, he made sure his days were filled with plans and strategies, which led him to professional prestige and material riches.  However, in early 2002, he found himself balanced on the rim of the still-smoking crater of Ground Zero in Manhattan, contemplating suicide. His life had become regimented, lacking something integral. For years, it had rushed before him, from one board meeting to the next, without feeling like it belonged to him. But rather than ending his life that day, he went on a personal journey. He traveled: he crossed the ice caps, rafted across Chilean rivers and learned to meditate. Crucially, he embraced not-knowing. Rather than living for an endlessly scheduled future, he learned to take things one at a time, and embrace the infinite potential of the present.  A part of this great change meant letting go of mistakes and regrets, and moving on – just like in his childhood games of stickball on a Brooklyn street, where, after a period of intense debate over whether something was a foul or a hit, his friend would shout, “Do-over!” That meant it was time to move on, time to start again. And so the logic of the “do-over,” in which we forgive, forget and move on, is something that he applies to life now. Rather than getting hung up on something, he gives himself one of these do-overs – he hits refresh. This is a crucial aspect of the pathless path, the one we take when we move forward refreshed, open to change, attentive to the moment. It means being mobile, ready to say yes to fortuitous events. Let’s say that you’re an investment banker and your life seems to be plotted out in neat, predictable segments. It all feels terribly stifling. Well, as the poet Rilke emphatically puts it, You must change your life. You, like the author, can embrace the pathless path.