This is the picture of tranquility: relaxing on a comfortable couch, with a beautiful and adoring dog lounging on a chair nearby, while taking in a gorgeous view. I’m relaxing just thinking about it.

This is the “reward” – what I get for putting up with what gets me here. Because getting into and out of my apartment is anything but easy. That lounging, calm-looking dog turns into a raving lunatic whenever we leave this space. His hormones are on overdrive and the mere whiff of a dog somewhere in the tristate area sends him into high pitched shrieks and twirls and leaps that would put an Olympic gymnast to shame. Getting out of my building involves my sneaking down the back stairs and peeking out of the doors to make sure the coast is clear. Getting IN is worse. I generally hide in the parking lot behind parked cars until I see a path to the front door. God forbid a dog surprises us coming off the elevator. No eardrums will be the same after that!

I was thinking about this situation as an analogy for many situations in life, from relationships to business. It may take a lot to get to your desired situation/destination, but once there, you see that the obstacles on the journey make the journey’s end even sweeter. 

And then there is knowing when it is time to leave. It can be as difficult a path as was the one that got you there in the first place. It takes a commitment to leave. Often it would be easier to stay where you know your surroundings, rather than take the risks you may face on your way out. But there are times when you have no choice and NEED to leave, and others when you know that leaving is right and what you desire. Yes, the act of leaving may be a difficult journey, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and more peace ahead. 

Life is full of beginnings and endings. Life itself can begin with ease or trauma, and the end of life can be the same. Both are necessary to bring us this human experience. We learn how to maintain focus, to work towards our goal, to be in the fight. And we learn to release – sometimes fighting the process until we realize the result will be the same whether we fight or go with grace and ease. 

Our challenge is what to do with, as Mary Oliver so beautifully said, “your one wild and precious life”. Will you continue to stay self-focused or will you find ways to serve others? Will you strive to grow or languish in self-pity? Will you be the salmon, continually swimming upstream against the tide, or the leaf, going with the flow and enjoying the scenery? What is exquisitely beautiful is that you have a choice. Your reward is dependent upon the choices you make.

Take a moment to let your head be in the same place as your feet today. Look around and really see your life. What is working? What is not? Where is there a need for an ending and where is there a new beginning possible? Take a breath. Connect with your inner wisdom. Connect with a dear friend. Be alive. 

The hassles may still exist, but life waits for you on the other side. Create your rewarding life. And may your pathways be clear!