“It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.” —Rumi

Rumi has a way of using very few words to stimulate deep thoughts.

I suppose I’m a big picture person – always thinking of everything as a part of the whole – assessing how things fit together, figuring out why and how certain events happen and what may be the relationship of this particular occurrence to other incidents in my life. I also believe that true coincidences are few and far between.

So all these beliefs come into play when I think about Rumi’s words as they relate to my personal journey here on earth. I have walked some of it alone…but I have also been blessed by the presence of many others who have joined me on the way. I believe that who I am is the result of all those who have shared in my journey. Some walk with me always, in body or in spirit – those who nurtured me during my early years, my husband and my children and my sisters. These have each brought cherished others onto my path and they, too, have become perpetual companions on my journey.

There are others who walk with me for extended periods – treasured friends whose lives have become commingled with mine – whose stories mesh with mine –  for at least part of our individual journeys.

Others may appear on my path only once…yet they are critical to the direction I pursue. Often they join me unexpectedly, when I have lost my way. Never do I believe that their presence in and on my journey is a diminishable coincidence.

Sometimes I have wished that another could walk my journey in my stead or that I could exchange my path for another that seemed less arduous. But in retrospect I find the wisdom in Rumi’s words. I’ve learned that it is by walking the path set before me – my unique journey – even when my spirit, my values, yes, even my faith may be tested – it is then and there that I find me, who I am and who I was always meant to be.

As I said, my journey has indeed been blessed. Other than times that I have actually sought solitude, I have rarely ever felt myself truly alone. I have only needed to reach out my hand a short distance to have someone join me on my path at exactly where I am. And each has left behind a part of themselves. I am always so enriched by these unselfish, sometimes seemingly random, encounters.

But now I wonder…did I then and do I now, in turn, gift my companions as I become a part of their story? What aspect of myself did I/can I leave with them as we walk together?  Maya Angelou wrote that people may forget a great deal about you, but “they will never forget the way you made them feel.”

As I continue on my life’s journey, I will take with me the words of both Rumi and Ms. Angelou