The choice is ours: victims or masters

September 22, 2011

I read an excellent book today, The Walk, written by Richard Paul Evans. I had nothing to do all afternoon but read. I drove 158 km to attend a workshop, only to find out the workshop had been held the day before. It was the result of a typo that never got noticed, until I showed up on the wrong day.

So I spent time in the bookstore looking for something to read. I noticed The Walk because Evans also wrote The Christmas Box, which I read last year. The Christmas Box had been an enjoyable book and I was hoping The Walk would not disappoint me. It didn’t.

The book is about an individual who experiences incredible hardships, one right after the other. Each hardship traumatic on its own. Added together with the other hardships that occurred at the same time, it was too much for the main character to handle. He quit life, and went for a walk. His intent was to walk from Seattle, Washington, to Key West, Florida. The transformation that occurred during this walk was remarkable.

This is quite a short book, just as The Christmas Box is. And, as with the latter book, The Walk is filled with profound truths. At the beginning of each chapter, there is a quote from the main character’s diary. Each of these quotes is worth taking the time to read and reflect upon. One quote resonated deeply with me because it echoed what I had written about in my blog just the other day.

“Kierkegaard wrote that ‘we understand our lives backward, but must live them forward.’ He was right, of course; but in looking back on the hammer strikes that chisel and shape our souls we understand more than our lives and even ourselves – we begin to comprehend the sculptor.” (page 270)

By looking at our difficulties as being a way to grow spiritually, we can give meaning to seemingly meaningless chaos.

On pages 285 to 288, Evans includes a short story about a poor family, their cow, an apprentice, and his master. I wish the story was short enough to include here, but I’ll have to leave you to read it for yourself. If nothing else, just pick up the book at the bookstore or library and read those few pages. The lesson the poor family, and the apprentice, learned from the incident related in the story is that when we lose everything we think is important, only then do we recognize the great potential that lies within.

“Only then did we discover that we had greater power and abilities than we possibly imagined and never would have found as long as we relied on that cow. What a great blessing from Heaven to have lost our little cow.” (page 288)

The main character concludes at the end of the book that, “We can spend our days bemoaning our losses, or we can grow from them. Ultimately the choice is ours. We can be victims of circumstances or masters of our own fate, but make no mistake, we cannot be both.” (page 288)

Even though I have witnessed an abundance of tragedies over the past seven years, I choose to use my difficulties to propel myself onto a better path. I choose to be a master of my own fate.

See my blogs titled, “Why not me?, “Adjusting my sails,” and “Dealing with PTSD” for more information.

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