Taking the Journey
Posted: May 11, 2009 at 4:43 pm
My daughters recently performed in their school play – “Into the Woods.” “Into the Woods” is a conglomeration of classic children’s fairy tales, with a comic twist. While the adult version portrays some racy and adulterous relationships, the junior version has an alternative message of its own. I always have an eye and an ear out for messages and material that relate to our challenge as adults to lead healthy and productive lives. Here’s the message I heard while watching the play - it’s a message that I think is a valuable one for those of us who venture into the woods to lose weight, or to eat healthier, or to give up an addictive habit, or to find a new path.
Little Red Riding Hood must go into the woods to help her Grandmother, Jack to sell the cow, the Baker and his wife to break a spell, and Cinderella to make a wish at the foot of the hazelnut tree. As the choristers sing “Into the Woods, Into the Woods….” Their voices merge collectively into singleness of purpose, and crescendo to eerily dissonant but energetic tones. Theatre goers can feel the power of the message – we must venture into an unknown and frightening place in order to emerge with something better – there is no other choice. We must go into the woods. The act ends as they line up across center stage singing of their determination and hope “Into the Woods, Into the Woods - and home before dark!” They’re trying to convince themselves - saying; we can do this, it won’t be that hard – we’ll even be home before dark! Yet on that final, tell tale note that pounds through the air – the players each peer into the depths of woods, pointing at an ominous shape– “there’s something in the glade there!” The curtain falls.
Skipping ahead to the final act - they venture in the woods and they come out of the woods, each having learned something valuable and each with their hard won treasure. As is often the case with fairy tales, the fantastical nature of the treasure belies the difficulties that were endured on the journey – the wolves, the witches, the spirits and wizards.
The message: if you want something, you will have to go into the woods. You won’t always be sure of the way, you’ll endure discomfort and doubt, and you may even wonder if you’ll make it out. While you’ll suffer pain, you will gain your treasure and more – you‘ll gain wisdom, and strength, satisfaction, and peace.
How does this relate to making healthy changes? Here’s how: Have you noticed that every program out there, every popular diet, every workout, every ab gadget, sells itself on its ability to require almost nothing of you? You can lose weight and still eat cake, you can tone up without lifting a finger, you can just park at the back of the lot and improve your fitness level, you can reduce from a 20 oz steak to a 16 oz steak and improve your cholesterol, you can switch out 2 sodas a day for water and lose 10 pounds a year, you can heal your pain just by slipping on a magnetic bracelet. We’re convinced – we can get something for almost nothing.
Let’s face it – this is one fantasy that isn’t working. We’re going to have to put in some effort to take home the prize. In fact, it’s a good thing to be uncomfortable, it a good thing to feel a bit unsure, it’s a good thing to have to strive and struggle – that’s how we grow. Do the work and you’ll lose the pounds - (hint: the pounds are not the treasure). The real treasure is your stronger, more sure self - all the stuff you never expected to find in the woods.
Take the journey.