In mistakes there is growth and on the hitherto untrodden path where we step away from the beaten track real life can commence. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” declared a fervent Neale Donald Walsch – and with that delivered a truth that rings louder than words. It is in the great uncertainty and our inability to fully predict what lies ahead, in the actual walking on the road “less traveled by” that the words of Robert Frost begin to make sense, step out of the page and enter our own reality as guidelines to live by. If we are less idealistic, realise “there is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”, and see beauty in apparent imperfection, we are no longer limited by what we fear may become actions turned mistakes. We allow ourselves to become bolder, more courageous, more daring and ultimately more successful human beings and we can enjoy a fuller and more authentic life. By breaking through the barriers of our own minds, by seeing the forest despite all the trees, cutting those self-imposed shackles and comparing ourselves less with others and more with ourselves ̶ with our before and after and all the ups and downs leading to failures and successes in between ̶ we stay grounded and true to who we ought to be. It is within those new parameters that real personal growth can happen.

Photograph: Jytte Holmqvist (Sweden) 15/08/2020

As we grow older we also slowly gain skills in the art of detaching from ourselves and our own importance. Reaching our 40’s we enter a transitional stage of in-betweenness. Neither young nor old, we learn to look beyond the presumed limitations of others. We are finally able to step into the shoes of those who came before us, including our own parents. Age is a beautiful thing as it teaches us to inadvertently enter episodes in the lives of our fellow travellers and assess situations in the past from their perspective at the time. We finally realise we might not have done things very differently ourselves. As we see the bigger picture, we look at the positives to be gained from hard decisions that we ourselves, passive observers at the time but fraught by silent prejudices, condemned harshly ̶ unable to operate without judgment and rid ourselves of preconceived ideas of what was seen as right or wrong.

By visualising and stepping into the grey zones that are often overshadowed by an oppressive black and white attitude, by appreciating unpolished beauty, and by viewing others in a more positive light we challenge the limitations of our own minds. As we enter the mindsets of others we abandon ourselves if only for a moment and leave behind our restricting and aggrandized need for self-importance. We unconsciously embrace that growth mindset that has gained momentum as a catch phrase in the media today. And the poetic wisdom of Leonard Cohen allows us to open our minds, to inquisitively look at the world from a different perspective ̶ finally breaking through. In doing so we likewise choose the path suggested to us by Frost. We opt for the road less traveled and become less fearful, stronger, bigger and better for it.

There is true beauty in imperfection and by freeing our minds we tap into our hidden potential. Spiritual growth gradually takes place during the emotional roller coaster of life. Real insights are gained when we dare exit ourselves and are willingly and actively swept away by the invigorating energies of others.