Q: Is staying off the more traveled path and keeping a low profile helpful to your spirit or denying you the experience of real life and opportunities to help others?
A: It sounds like the first part of your question is two different things, doesn’t it? If you’re talking about the more traveled spiritual path and keeping a low profile, then they could be the same thing. A lot of spirituality seems to be connected with humility, compassion, quiet, respect and understanding, which are in keeping with the concept of keeping a low profile.
But when I think about a more traveled path in general, I think about Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Less Traveled” and how he says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
In my heart of hearts I actually think there is no ONE path that everyone should be on. I think we all have our unique, individual paths. I think we need to FIND our own path, then make it our lifelong commitment to ourselves to walk that unique path.
Having said that, however, I can understand the concept that a more traveled path can mean our beliefs about an “acceptable” life—graduating from college, getting married, getting a respectable job, having children, being responsible, etc. That means that a lot of people might think of those choices as the “best” and ones that are “good” to make and create in their lives.
You look around, and a lot of people have made those choices and crafted their lives to look like the above scenario. If that sincerely is what you want to do, then do it. But I would first gently challenge you to look deep into your heart and ask yourself if you are living an authentic life, or one that has been influenced by these outside societal forces. I don’t think we can ever totally get away from being influenced by society, because we are a tribal community, connected. “No man is an island,” John Donne wrote.
So while we can’t totally get away from the concept that we’ll be more accepted by walking that more traveled path, we can be aware of our tendencies to go along with the status quo, and use that awareness to challenge some of our automatic responses to make them more in alignment with our heart’s desires. What does that mean? At first pass I might say, “I need to continue being on the PTA because that shows I’m a good mother.” That’s solid, right? That’s true, right? But with my current work schedule, it might be taking me over the edge. It might be time to step down from all the volunteering to give other people a chance (as my mom used to say). I have to look at what’s right for me, not what I think I should be doing.
Let’s talk about keeping a low profile. What that feels like to me is that you’re saying you want to remain more quiet about your beliefs and just live your life without causing a big scene, without drawing attention to yourself or expecting people to adore, admire, affirm, or acknowledge your every “good” deed. I think that’s a good choice for some people, but then there are those, like the Dali Lama, who is a very spiritual man, yet has a very high profile in the world, to help bring about awareness and consciousness. That’s his path.
Only you know if it works for you to walk the more traditional path, or carve your own, or whether you need to keep a low profile or move into the limelight a little more. From an intuitive viewpoint, you definitely tend toward the unique path, but still like being a part of, so there are parts of your life that look traditional, yet some aspects that are really individual. Yes, you’re more low profile, because it’s more important for you just to LIVE your spirituality than to yell it from the mountaintops. It looks like you know yourself well.
As regarding the thought that if you are walking your own path you are being denied the experience of real life and the opportunity to help others, I think you doing what you need to do is your only chance of experiencing “real life,” because it’s YOUR life, so it IS real… to you. You’re not trying to live someone else’s idea of a good life. If you’re living your true life, that’s the only place from which you CAN help others. It’s like saying that you have a great need to save drowning people, but if you’re standing on the shore, you can’t save them. You have to be willing to be in a boat, even if people tell you that you should stay on the land. Do what you need to do, and be where you need to be TO do what you need to do.
You’re doing great – you have integrity, great love for the world, an intuitive understanding of the way things work, and a great need to understand not only yourself but the rest of the world, as well. Keep walking, knowing that you are doing exactly what you need to be doing, when you need to be doing it. You’re walking a less traveled path, but it’s an interesting path that is taking you on an adventure that you wouldn’t want to miss for anything – you took the road less traveled, “and that has made all the difference.”
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