The Road Map to Life- Revised

Life is so short yet how many of us really ask ourselves what it is that we really want?

the road map to life
Where is your map taking you?
Salta, Argentina. Photo by me

Sometimes life seems like it is just one long tunnel of social agreements.

We go to school, college, university. We go on to get a ‘good’ job, we find a partner, we wed. We aim to get a promotion, a higher salary, a foot on the property ladder. Next come the kids and later the house extension. Two new cars on the drive and a holiday once a year in a foreign country and congratulations, we have got ourselves a successful life!

Everything seems to have purpose in the beginning, a sense of progression, expansion. We are going somewhere, we are getting richer and therefore better.

But then it seems like very often the story falters.

We have followed the Road map of Life to the T and we are en-route to our destination…however it is no longer clear what the destination is. When we look up from the driving seat we see only an endless tunnel that just continues and continues into darkness…

tunnel vision in the map of life
Tunnel Vision.
Madrid, photo by me

A sense of ‘is this it?’ creeps in.

Suddenly, the perfect magazine life that we have spent so much time and effort crafting begins to feel suffocating and meaningless. The dream has become a nightmare.

Midlife crisis shortly follows and maybe some radical change if we’re courageous enough. Or maybe we decide that better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, so we don’t risk rocking the boat and resign ourselves to a ‘comfortable’ life.

This Road Map of Life that gets handed down to us, as beautiful as a journey that it can be, has got some vital road signs missing. Any reference to dreams or a greater purpose seems to disappear by the time we get to around the age of 26. By then we have had our fun, and now it’s time to get serious about life.

We need to be saving for a mortgage. We need to be organising a pension plan. We need to be paying back our student loan. So we best get cracking on that career- it doesn’t matter so much if we enjoy it or if it brings meaning and purpose to our lives. As long as it is keeping us on the map of common decency and respectability then that’s all that matters!

This is in no way intended to dis-value this life path. Many of my friends and family are living out their lives authentically and joyfully in this way. Indeed, I benefited from the stability that such a lifestyle brings to children growing up and I am very grateful for that.

Equally, I am also grateful that my parents showed me that it’s ok to make big changes when you realise that something isn’t working for you anymore, rather than continue living a life that no longer reflects who you are.

Needless to say, this road map of life has not turned out to be the one for me. I have serious concerns about the limiting nature of its directions.

Nuclear family bliss and a 4 bedroom house cannot be the main purpose of life- something to enjoy and hold dear of course, but the sole aim of life, no.

How can it be? These things are all transitory. The children grow up, you realise that you have nothing else to say to your husband and that corporate job that you invested all your life energy into lets you retire without so much as a bunch of flowers.

And then what? We consult the map to see if we have taken any wrong turnings but no. We arrive at the real destination of life unprepared and feeling cheated.  

And then, of course, we begin to realise (if we haven’t already) that our best years are behind us and ‘it’s all downhill from here’.

 I’m sure we have all seen this happen. We see it, we live it. We dread it happening to us. We dread our old age, and the emptiness it seems to bring. Maybe it is also the lack of direction. The goals have all been achieved or have passed us by, but either way, we are heading into the darkness as we approach the end of the tunnel.

From expansion to retraction.

There has to be something more.

So then, what to do? Do we throw the map away completely?

I don’t know the best way for everyone to live their lives, nor is it my place to tell people how to do so, but for me, one of the key ingredients of the Road Map of Life is the need for it to be our own.

Whether that is a high flying corporate career or a homemaker, this is our one chance at this life so we have no time to spare imitating the life of someone else or chasing an idea of success that doesn’t ring true for us.

This requires courage and creativity and the ability to keep our eye on the ball– ultimately our own demise.

the road map to life- we are not going to be here forever!

Courage and creativity are also vital ingredients in this task at hand of making the world a more beautiful place. It certainly isn’t going to come into being by following the status quo!

We have to go back in time to rediscover those dreams and passions of our youth; we have to dive bravely inward and see what vision of our lives is there waiting to be discovered.

In doing so, we will infuse our being with life, no matter how old and ‘passed it’ you are! Life will take on a deeper sense of meaning and purpose as we begin to align our lives with what we value most deeply. The world will benefit from the light that our authenticity brings and life automatically becomes more colourful and fresh.

And when that cynical voice tells us that we are being unrealistic, let us check to see how much life their words possess- is this voice joyful and courageous? If not, then I dare say that following their advice will only lead us to dead ends. Literally.

So then, maybe it’s time to throw the map away and go off-road, and see where this adventure will take us! Whether you are married with kids or single and loving it, everyone has room in their life for a bit of adventure!

authentic living inspiring courage and creativity
We are all in this together

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Olivia Grundy

Join me as I transition from the city to the country, following my hearts desire for a more sustainable life based on respect for the Earth and all the creatures in it.

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Such a fantastic read. As someone who made the choice to get off the proverbial merry-go-round last year, it can be frightening to set off into the unknown. Yet, it is the best gift we can give ourselves.

I look forward to reading more about your transition to the countryside. Best!

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