You can't be lost, but you can be unhealthy

At Olive we analyze cliches for the same reason Lakoff and Johnson analyzed metaphors in their 1980 Metaphors we Live By, to understand the effects they can have on us. The cliche we have been thinking about lately is: "I am looking for my path."

Well, for those of you who are looking for your paths, cheer up. You are on your path already!

Here are the assumptions we believe we make that would lead us to think otherwise, or synonomously, unhealthily.

1. paths exist, but may need to be found;

2. paths can exist outside of us in a future space;

3. paths have beginnings and endings;

4. paths move progressively forward in linear, straight lines through space;

5. paths imply improvement;

6. paths are individualized and ownable phenomenon;

7. paths can be found using systems, or tools;

8. paths are easy to identify when found.

1. Anything we need to find is either something we know exists but can't be found at the moment of looking, or something we believe exists but have uncertain evidence for. In the first case, we are looking for something that is lost, in the second case, we are looking for something assumed. In either case, we are looking for something with uncertain outcome, and this introduces anxiety into our lives.

2. We only ever look for things we do not have at the time, which means if we are lucky enough to find them we will do so in the future, which is just as much a place as it is a time. Therefore, if our path can be found in the future, it can be found in another place, which means paths can live outside of us. If so then, we must ask ourselves:

1) If I am not on my path now, then who's path am I on?

2) Is someone else on my path?

3) How can my path be considered mine if I am not occupying it? 

4) What is my path doing all this time that I am not occupying it? 

5) Where do I begin looking for my path, and how will I know when I find it?

3. It's common to conceptualise a path as having a beginning and an ending, in which case we must accept that it's possible to find our paths anywhere along its way, given it exists outside of us. If we are lucky, we find it at its begining, if we are not so lucky, we find it at its end. If we are really unlucky, we never find it all. That we might not find out path at all, or might find it after having missed a good part of it, are not healthy thoughts.

4. It seems in imagining finding our paths we imagine beginning someplace from which we continue forward into the future. However, there's no evidence that if paths exist they stretch out ahead of us. Many roads change directions as much as if not more than one hundred and eighty degrees, especially when climbing mountains or descending them, which means sometimes we are going to loop back onto ourselves, or return the way we came, meaning our paths could be taking us nowhere, or somewhere slowly, or backwards.

5. Given it's often the case that roads take us to places worse than the place we already are, it's also the case that finding our paths could be finding worse circumstances, in which case we are probably better off not finding it.

6. In seeking our paths we must never forget that paths, like lines, intersect with other paths, and so the process of seeking paths is equally the process of seeking the intersections of paths, as in the paths of other people (and other living or non-living creatures if we are honest), which means we must ask at least:

1) who owns the point of intersection?

2) who is the point of intersection for, us or them?

3) what is the purpose of the intersection of paths?

4) does intersecting with another path change the course of my path?

5) is looking for my path the equivalent of looking for an intersection of paths?

7. Finding, or discovering things, often implies using tools of one form or another (flashlight, internet, shovel, eyes, microscope, ears), which leads us to ask the question of what tools do we use to find our paths. The obvious problem we encounter in first asking this question is that - given the choice of possible tools is limitless - we are faced with a new challenge in addition to finding our path, and that is finding the right tool to find it with, meaning we have further complicated the search process because not only don't we know what tool to use, we still don't even know what we are looking for in the first place, or where.

8. Of all the infinite intersections of paths each day, which among them are meaningful indices that I am on, have found, or am nearing the point of finding, my path?


In our humble Olive opinion, it's never that we are looking for our paths, it's that we are looking to feel or experience something other than what we feel or experience now. Thus the question here is really not finding our paths but understanding what we want to feel or experience (or not feel or experience), and identifying where we are most likely to feel it or experience it, or not. None of the assumptions 1-8 above feel very good if you think about them, and could be the cause of anxiety, depression and confusion among other things. 

However, the good news is this. Unlike geometry, where it is said lines have beginnings and endings at points, paths - because we are moving along them like roads on a map - do not. That is to say, no matter where one "begins" a path, one begins it from another path, in which case all paths are ultimately connected, and one is always on a path of some form or another. One's path.

That, in our opinion, is where we can begin our true health awareness. We accept, as a matter of pragmatism, that we are on our paths now, and rather than using our energy to find something we are already on, we use our energy to understand our paths, our paths' intersections with others, where we are unhappy with our paths, and finally, to begin decorating them with how we would prefer then to look, now and in the future.

I feel so much gratitude, something I always struggled to feel. Now it’s flowing through me...
— A
I am eternally thankful for the wisdom, compassion and patience, and for the enriching life-long gifts I take with me.
— B