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The path to enlightenment is not a six-lane highway.

It’s not even a paved road.

It’s an uphill trail into the forest, with stones and branches across it. It’s just wide enough for one person.

On my path, I’ve had to move boulders out of the way to take the tiniest of steps. Every movement forward has been a pain in the ass. I fall. I get hurt. But I learn.

For the past decade, I’ve purposely sought truth and authenticity in my life. Books and writing have been my guides and remain the core elements of my personal growth.

Books like On Writing by Stephen King, Read for Your Life by Pat Williams, and The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life by Steven Leveen set me off in the right direction. Other books, like Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins helped me move forward. My Song by Harry Belafonte and My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem helped me develop my love of sociology and grassroots.

I had the urge to write. I figured blogging was as good a path as any. I began reviewing books on my blog, The Ardent Reader. Then I undertook a new personal project called My Ten Bucks, a blog about community, grassroots, and the importance of charities in American society.

While exploring these topics through writing, I realized I was also exploring myself.

What was next — identification of values, marital separation, divorce, independence, poverty, veritable bankruptcy, career changes, new love, advanced academic degrees, art, travel, and more writing — came after those first baby steps.

Mine has been a hard, stony, branch-ridden path, but it’s been enriching. I have become a different person — and I’m proud of who I am.

Along the way, I’ve met people are also seeking truth. I know (or I think) I have the tools to help them. I tell them to read books and write, because that worked for me. When they don’t, I get irked. My experience was so profound… why aren’t they listening? Or, This book changed my life! You found it boring? What’s wrong with you?

Apparently, the next step in my own enlightenment is understanding that not everyone goes in the same direction, or at the same speed. I also have to live with the [truly horrifying] fact that most people don’t even seek enlightenment. Inside I’m cringing, thinking about their lost potential.

Instead, like the authors who inspired me to push forward in my path to enlightenment, I must put my experience into words and release them into the wild. I must set aside my ego. I can’t make people do what I think they should; I can only encourage them to take what they need to move forward in their own journeys and leave the rest behind.

I’m alone on my path, and you’re alone on yours. At some point, our paths may run parallel for a while, but they’ll never converge.

Enlightenment is a journey you choose to undertake, and it’s up to you how you navigate it. And you have to do it at your own pace.

The only advice I can give is to just keep going.

Esther Hofknecht Curtis, BSOL, MSM-HCA is a freelance writer living in Dover, Delaware. Follow her on Facebook — go to https://www.facebook.com/TheArdentReader19977/

Book nerd and freelance writer finding gold in ordinary places. Email me at ejhcurtis@gmail.com Visit https://www.facebook.com/TheArdentReader19977/

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