Baboom baboom baboom … the sound of feet landing on a forest track. Huh huh huh huh … the sound of heavy breathing. It was 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning. Stephanie had been running for about ten minutes at a steady cadence, and with every step, she sank deeper into a meditative state. No more worrying, no more thinking, just feeling her heart beating, the sweat trickling down her face and the alternating contraction and expansion of her muscles. It had been a tiring workweek and this strenuous early morning exercise in the fresh forest air was doing her a world of good. Like always, it helped her to clear her mind and to invigorate her body. Still, today felt different. Even though she knew this place like the back of her hand, she felt as if she did not really know where she was going to.
Herb Alpert – Route 101
Her whole life, 26 years and counting, she had been moving forward without a clear destination in mind. She had no goals, no purpose, just what she had been told what life was about. That is why she studied, worked hard, exercised regularly, ate healthily, spent time with her family, went out with her friends and dreamed of finding Mr Right before she got much older. Sure, she was content, but when she looked in the mirror this morning, she had to admit that she did not look like someone who was living life to the full. Full throttle ahead on life’s freeway, definitely, but void of any feeling of fulfilment and the joy of being alive.
All of this sunk in at once when she left the track and hit the bitumen. Her transition from the varying, undulating track to the straight, narrow road reflected her progression from a carefree, spontaneous childhood to her orderly, regulated adult life. How could I have missed so many turns, she asked herself and wondered what her life would have looked like if she had opened her mind to other paths instead of blindly following the one that had been set laid out for her. She had focused on doing what was expected of her instead of exploring other possibilities. With this insight came the poignant feeling that, up until now, she had probably wasted most of her energy.
Grover Washington Jr. – Open Your Mind (Wide)
About half a mile down the road, Stephanie took a left turn to the trail that lead to the beach. When she arrived, she slowed down and walked to the shoreline. A smile of contentment appeared on her face, as she saw the waves rolling in. As always when she visited this spot, she was overcome by a deep feeling of gratitude. “Hmm,” she sighed and took a few minutes to just stand and take in the view. Despite the insight she had gained less than fifteen minutes ago, she could not help but feel satisfied with her life. Her efforts had never left her wanting and there were many things to be grateful for. “Thank you,” she whispered to the slight sea breeze that gently tugged at her locks. Then she turned around and went to where the sand met the narrow strip of rainforest lining the beach. There she sat down on the low hanging bough of a magnificent old guaiac tree and stared dreamily at the horizon.
Joyce Moreno with Mauricio Maestro – Coração Sonhador (translation: dreaming heart)
Before long, memories of her teenage days came flashing by. In hindsight, she realized that she had never given her future much thought. She had spent most of her time working and enjoying good times with family and friends. She had had a sheltered upbringing with few unpleasant events and with plenty of people nearby to talk to about any difficulties that she experienced. The downside to this well-structured and stable home environment was the feeling of having to please others and taking little time to think about what she really wanted in life. Catering to other people’s needs had gotten to such extremes that she completely forgot about her own.
Remembering this aspect of her life, she felt her heart beginning to ache. Wistfully, she visualized a boy in high school who she had been crazy about. She had never had the courage to express her feelings to him. “Oh well,” she sighed, still believing that those feelings had probably never been mutual anyway. No sooner had the words passed her lips, when she was distracted by a fluttering to her right. Her eyes opened wide when she saw a tiny hummingbird hovering right beside her. “Wow, aren’t you a pretty little thing.” Their eyes locked for a few moments before the bird flew off and disappeared in the trees. Without further thought, she made a resolution right there and then. “I’m not going to wait for my life to come and find me. I’m going after it.” Then she jumped up and ran back to the road to continue her morning run, leaving her passive attitude and the feeling of being dependent on others behind for good.
Diana Ross – It’s My Turn
Meanwhile, about a mile down that same road, Fernando drove his old Land Cruiser to a halt on the roadside and switched off the engine. That morning, he had woken up feeling lethargic. Now he thought about it, he knew that the feeling had started the evening before. He had put it down to a busy week at work, but deep down he knew there was something else that he just could not put his finger on. To energize himself, he had decided to go to the beach for a swim. However, he was only a few miles down the road when he began to feel drowsy. That is why he decided to stop the car before he caused an accident. He unfastened his seatbelt, leaned with both arms on the steering wheel and rested his head on his arms. Within seconds of closing his eyes, he fell asleep and began dreaming.
In his dream, he was crossing the schoolyard of his old high school towards the exit, when he spotted the girl he had a crush on standing some twenty metres away with her back to him. He stopped and stared at her, his heart pounding, and swallowed a few times while he plucked the courage to go over to her and ask if he could walk her home. He did not have to give it much thought though, as her friends arrived and they walked off together. Suppressing tears of disappointment, he continued on his way to the exit with his shoulders hunched and his gaze directed at the pavement. When he looked up again, he found himself in an unfamiliar landscape, walking along a riverbank that marked the edge of a small forest. Squawk squawk … a magnificent pair of parrots flew by and jolted him out of his sleep.
One morning many years later, when Stephanie was in her late fifties, she sat in her lounge room and stared dreamily out the window at the clouds drifting slowly by. She had woken up early from a strange yet pleasant dream. Strange because the dream felt so real, and pleasant because it felt as if she had found something in herself that she had lost a long time ago. This feeling had been enhanced when she was startled by two beautiful and noisy parrots flying close by.
Looking back on her dream, Stephanie realized what the parrots were trying to tell her. They reminded her of a morning run when she was in her twenties. At the time, she had felt very strongly that she was unable to lead her own life and therefore, she had allowed others to determine her course. Nowadays, her life was the exact opposite. She listened closely to the whisperings of her heart, telling her to be honest with herself and make choices that were in line with her life purpose. Because of this, she was living a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Joyce Moreno – Barracumbarra
Stephanie turned away from the window and looked to her right at the white, purple hearted orchid that was flowering abundantly in a large pot on a side table. As always, it brought a radiant smile to her face. Not just because of its beauty, but because of the special place it held in her heart. It had been a present from her husband many years ago when they were young. To her, it symbolized not only his love for her and his endless encouragement, but also what he saw in her. To this day, he often told her how he admired her pureness and her capacity for bringing to fruition anything that she put her mind to. She could not help but agree with him.
Together, they had built a warm and loving family with strong foundations. They now had three children in their late twenties and early thirties, and five young grandchildren. Even now that their children no longer lived at home and were raising families of their own, the whole family loved getting together regularly. These family get-togethers were characterized by love, warmth and respect for everyone’s freedom. They were characteristics that Stephanie fully embodied and had assimilated in her work. Her work involved bringing people, especially women, together to form close-knit communities that worked together on projects that improved their lives and the lives of the people around them. All in all, they contributed to a world where people lived in harmony and helped to advance society as a whole.
Al Jarreau – (A Rhyme) This Time
By taking my time, I will need less of it
“Hmm,” Stephanie sighed as she looked out the window again. “Who would have thought that I would go and fulfil my purpose after all?” She went on to ask herself how this had come about and smiled when the answer seemingly popped up out of nowhere. After that run all those years ago, she had taken some time off work to seclude herself and find out who she really was. She had spent her days doing very little at all and when she did do something, it was because of the feeling deep down that it would be good for her. This had brought her back to her core, where she felt calm and reconnected with her feminine energy and the immense creative power that was at her disposal. From then on, instead of blindly moving forward, she took the time to open her mind and view her life from a broader perspective. As a result, she put in less effort, and at the same time, she did things more efficiently and effectively.
“How is our Caribbean Earth Mother feeling this morning?”
Stephanie turned around and smiled warmly at her husband who had just entered the room, holding an avocado in his hand.
“Good morning, sweetheart. I’m feeling as content as ever, thank you. Now, come and sit with me.”
As she spoke, she patted the space beside her on the couch. Her husband went and sat down beside her.
“Look, I’ve got a present for you,” he said and placed the avocado in her hands.
“Oh, thank you. It looks delicious.”
“It does, doesn’t it? I’m glad you started our own little edible garden.”
“And I’m glad you had such a crush on me in high school,” Stephanie replied and gently stroked his cheek with her hand.
“What do you mean ‘had’? I still do,” her husband said with a big grin on his face.
“Haha,” Stephanie laughed. “The feeling’s mutual. But seriously, I’m so grateful that I happened to find you dozing in your car on the side of the road where I was running.”
“Same here,” her husband replied, smiling. “I’m especially grateful for what happened next.”
Stephanie smiled as tears rolled down her cheeks, when she vividly remembered reaching through the car window, gently cupping his face in her hands and kissing his lips with her eyes closed. That moment had heralded not only a relationship that was certain to last a lifetime, but also Stephanie’s decision to find out who she really was. Just like then, she cupped his face with her hands, and before she began tenderly kissing his inviting lips, she said: “Thank you, Fernando, for helping me back on track to myself.”
Diana Ross – Do You Know Where You’re Going To? (theme from Mahogany)
Symbolism and terminology:
Stephanie: Stephanie is a girl’s name that comes from the Greek word for ‘crown’.
Hummingbird: Coming out of nowhere, bringing joy; all things good
Fernando: Fernando is a boy’s name of Spanish origin, meaning: adventurous; daring
Parrot: The parrot symbolizes: a long life; freedom; the power of words; the inner mind; truth telling; speaking from the heart
Orchid: The orchid flower symbolizes: fertility; sexuality; elegance; grace; pureness
Avocado: The avocado fruit, also known as avocado pear, symbolizes: love; health; prosperity
Images and videos:
‘shutterstock_1284968125’ from Shutter-stock
‘Asphalt’ by Pexels on Pixabay
‘Beach’ by Eduardoortiz on Pixabay
‘Bird’ by TheOtherKev on Pixabay
‘People’ by StockSnap on Pixabay
‘Landscape’ by Enriquelopezgarre on Pixabay
‘Clouds’ by Padrinan on Pixabay
‘shutterstock_1401390065__1_’ from Shutterstock
‘Orchids’ by SeaReads on Pixabay
‘Avocado’ by Ceguito on Pixabay