Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

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Which Way Do I Go?

There’s a lot of directions you can travel in when it comes to your road to mental health and well-being.  But it appears that traveling of any kind creates dilemmas: you need to choose a direction but don’t know where you begin.  You need to prepare for the journey but you have no idea what to do.  You need to choose how fast you’ll get there based on your chosen method of transport but you don’t know where you’re going or if you can drive there.

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So I Hit The Rowdy Road

I’m going somewhere.  Wherever it is, it’s in this direction.  Or that one.  But whichever road I choose it’s going to take energy, work, determination and effort, unless the direction is downhill and then it’s just a matter of holding on to your britches while you roll into the inevitable cacti at the bottom.  That’s the path of least resistance.  That’s depression; you fall downhill until you get hurt because you weren’t watching where you were going and besides, you didn’t see the damn cactus in the first place.

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Journeys of any kind mean taking paths that have hills and valleys and interminably long and seemingly endless perfectly flat roads.  A plateau, if you will.  And if you think about it, what happens on a plateau?   Nothing much.  But when you’re forced to climb a hill, there’s something over that hill.  When you reach the top, at least you have a vista to contemplate.  And when you’re going downhill, you have to apply the brakes so you’re not going too fast.

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What If You Get Fogged In?

Rain, hail, sleet, snow, sun, shade, cold, hot.  On your journey you will experience those things and many, many more.  But it can be something as soft and gentle as fog that presents you with an alarming hazard.

People often are involved in multi-car pileups in the fog because they were either driving recklessly for the conditions or they aren’t using their headlights.  Let’s face it, people can barely drive in the rain, let alone a heavy fog.

So when you’re socked in by a dense fog the best thing to do is wait and it will eventually pass.  It’s the same with the fog of depression and uncertainty.  Keep vigilance and watch the road ahead for danger.  Keep your headlights on, don’t drive recklessly and eventually you can move forward with clarity of vision.  That means driving in a state of high alertness, just in case.

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Staying Off The Railroad Tracks

Detours from your journey can present some significant danger.  When you’re heading for Mexico City, for example, and find yourself in a bar in Tijuana.  How’d that happen?

Or walking down the railroad tracks because you’ve lost your way and you’re looking for the nearest town.  Did no one see Stand By Me?  Anyway, it’s important to remember that emotionally speaking, when you’re walking down a completely unknown path, remember to watch out for the unexpected.  A 2000-ton train engine can be a nasty surprise.

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Beautiful Creatures Or AAAHH! RUN! IT’S A LION!

You might meet some very interesting animals on your journey.  Lions are among them. So are jackals and hyenas.  So are Birds of Paradise.

You never know.  And if you’re headed somewhere and a lion should cross your path, then I suggest that you give the lion the right of way unless you have pulled up to the 4-way stop first (and just so you know, they’re terrible drivers).

Just because something is unknown — like, is that a good lion or a bad lion? — does not mean that you need to fear, it just means you need to use your head and keep out of trouble.  Fear of the unknown is what drives everything that’s wrong with humanity, war most especially.  Fear creates unreasonable behavior.

If we’re on a journey to a place where we’re healthy and strong, then unnecessary fear is to be avoided.  Just like lions; you don’t have to be afraid if you know how to handle one, but it’s better not to provoke the King of Beasts in the first place.

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Pleasant Does’t Necessarily Mean Safe

It’s just as easy to get lost in a beautiful place as in an ugly or frightening place.  The fact is you’re lost, and need to correct that problem quickly or your goal isn’t going to be achieved.

There are many lovely places in your head, and there are just as many not so wonderful places, too.  But it’s what we pay attention to, what we learn from where we are, what we put into our sacks and take with us that either buoys us emotionally or weighs us down in the end.

Mania is a lot like being lost in a beautiful place.  And anyone that suffers from hypo- or full-blown mania can tell you that it’s great for a while until you realize where you’ve been and what you’ve done.  It’s then that you realize that beauty is just as dangerous.

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So, You Think You Have Arrived?

Here is the most dangerous place on your entire trek.  When you think you’re close to the end of the journey, guess what?  You’re not.  You’re moving toward a future and that future is a way of thinking.  It isn’t a physical place and certainly not a permanent place where everything is certain.  Remember how Twain said that the only things that are certain are death and taxes?  Not even those are certain anymore.

You see, believing you’re nearing the end is the place where you tend to stop, to regroup, to anticipate your tomorrow.  It’s the place where everyone on the journey celebrates the fact that they’re finally going to arrive in the Emerald City and have a wonderful day at the Wash & Brush-up Company getting ready to see the Wizard.

It’s the place where you let down your guard.  And that is the most dangerous place in which to find yourself.

When you let down your guard, you are not being vigilant.  The Visigoths could be lurking just behind that wall over there.  You might need to take a step back and realize the real truth: you’re still on the road and not at the road’s end.  Danger still lurks but rather than fear it keep yourself at the ready.  You’ve worked very hard to come so far and to be taken by surprise now that you’re closer would be a stinging defeat.  But depression and mania don’t mind hiding behind the wall waiting for you to drop your guard.

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The Goal Is To See The Future With Your Own Eyes

This is the purpose of your journey.  You’ve done your very best to come to a place within yourself that can meet with and appreciate the future.

And the future is always coming and the future could be anything.  But one thing’s sure: it never actually arrives.  That’s the wonderful thing about a journey: it never really ends.  So being on your guard, moving forward with intent, making the best of every situation and working toward a better future is the trip.

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