At the beginning of some yoga classes the teacher will invite you to set an intention. This is a prayer, or a hope, or a goal. It is a focus point. It is a way of aiming yourself in the right direction.
I offer you this insight from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where…
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.
So you need to set an intention, otherwise you’ll end up just anywhere. You’ll wander off aimlessly and end up years later wondering how you got there. You got there because you drifted along with the stream.
Sometimes it isn’t planning to fail, but failing to plan that is the problem.
This is true mentally and physically. Where do you want to go? Do you have a business plan? Do you have a career plan? Do you have a spiritual plan? This isn’t about the “name it and claim it” trend – it is about being awake and intentional about life. I don’t believe in “wish-craft”. I do believe that everything worth having in life is made up of little tiny steps. You have to have a plan, and you have to work towards that.
Neil Gaiman in his “Make Good Art” book said that when he first started out he envisioned where he wanted to be as a mountain. He’d look at whatever job was offered him and measure it up as to whether it moved him closer to the mountain or further away. This seems like a good idea. Does this little thing get me closer to where I want to be?
Life is cumulative. A college degree is made up of many classes and many tests. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of little steps, going towards a goal. Everything built on top of everything. If you took a class and read a book and attended a lecture on your own with no goal in mind, you might learn something but it wouldn’t add up to anything specific. You will have frittered away your time, aimlessly wandering. You’d end up nowhere, lost.
This reminds me of when I was on a trip in England with my aunt. She was driving and I was navigating. I’d give directions as to what leg of the roundabout to take and she’d sometimes pay attention. She’d take the third leg instead of the fourth and we’d be hurtling down, getting further and further away from where we wanted to be. English roundabouts aren’t like American interstates. If you get off on the wrong one you can’t turn around and right yourself anytime soon. You’ll be at least thirty minutes away down the wrong road before you get to another roundabout where you can reorient yourself. She could have stayed in the roundabout, going around again to aim at the correct leg, but she didn’t. This happened a lot.
After several days of this I relinquished my role as navigatrix. Why bother telling her where to go when she was going to ignore me anyway?
So, my point is to aim. Plan ahead. Have some idea of where you want to go, because either you’ll stay stuck where you are, or you’ll end up really far away from your goal. What do you want to be doing ten years from now? How are you going to get there? Sometimes it takes baby steps in that direction. Just keep aiming that way, keep walking.
And don’t get in a car with my aunt.