• Ben Pechey

Not all paths lead to our future


When we think about our lives, and purpose, it is sometimes useful to employ metaphors. These metaphors help us describe our purpose, why life happens the way it does, and what we do with our time on earth. There are a few I have grown fond of, perhaps as a writer, or maybe through therapy.


One I like to return to is that life is a set of paths that we walk down. We progress further as we discover and learn more about ourselves. Until recently I thought that every path that I walked down was fixed, that each path was my predetermined destiny.


This rigid approach to life, and the decisions I make, have stopped serving me well this year. It is all well and good to be resolute in your choices, but how do you cope when something out of your control blows you off course?





Not everyone clings to control with such fervour, but it is something that I crave. Control makes me feel safe. Control makes me feel like I have freedom. Control makes me feel like I am on top of my game. I have had to learn the hard way that controlling everything is great until you can no longer control everything. Then things begin to unravel.


That is what has happened to me this year. I have experienced some large uncontrollable life events, that have left me reeling. The lack of agency I felt in these big moments - which were essentially trauma - left me feeling adrift, like Rose on her big door at the end of Titanic.





The fallout of certain events will, of course, heal with time. Time, however, is not enough when it comes to mental maintenance. I have learned that in order for things to improve, I have to show up for myself and do some work to make my life more bearable.


Which has meant using therapy sessions to really unpack my emotions and my viewpoints. In one session I was able to work out how to get a handle on the sense of spiralling I had been feeling. Coming back to the idea that life is a set of paths. This is a healthy way to view it. However, not all paths lead to our future.





Some lead to secluded gardens, which are beautiful to visit, but are not for us to stay in forever - we are guests to this vista. It is not a dead-end, instead, it is an episode or two of our lives, not the whole season of the show. Once it is clear that this episode is coming to an end, it is time to leave the garden, and head back to the main path of your life.


This metaphoric description has really helped me to see why certain things come to an end, why we lose people we love, and how we can grow from this as a person. This shift in perception has given me the hope I have needed to keep walking on the path to my future.


I am grateful for this shift in perception, which has been a real lifeline in a hard period of my life. I hope it can help you if you have been looking for a way to make sense of life too.


Shot by Ruth Pechey