The other day I was reflecting on life’s journey. In my youth I had looked at life as a straight path. My goal was always clear in my mind as to my spiritual direction. Then, as the saying goes, “life happened? Now, in my forties, I sense that life is more like a maze than a straight path. Certain turns do lead to dead ends. At first I looked at these missteps as time lost. Today, however, I see them as valuable, even sacred, steps in what constitutes “my path?

These days my path is quite challenging. In my personal life, events are transpiring that require all my available spiritual, emotional, and physical strength. To be honest, at certain moments, I have felt unequal to the challenge. So, to reflect on what was and perhaps even to regain the strength and fortitude of youth, it occurred to me to visit my childhood home and stomping grounds. This visit was to become an awakening lesson in perspectives.

First, I first drove by my childhood home. I had to stop along the side of the road and marvel at the sight of it. It looked so small, obviously having shrunk in thirty-five years. I saw the windows to my and my older brother’s rooms and reflected on all the good times we shared growing up. Playing Toss up and Tackle; sneaking into his room in the middle of the night to read juicy love letters from his girlfriends (Mission Impossible was a big TV hit at the time and I saw myself as a secret agent sneaking into enemy territory while they slept to read secret documents, which in fact they were); my brother almost burning down the kitchen trying to cook pizza for us when our parents were out.

Pulling away from my childhood home, I decided to make the long drive to the park where I used to play. Only it wasn’t a “long drive? but just a few blocks away--not even a quarter of a mile! I had to laugh as I parked my car, remembering how long the walk seemed to me when I was a child.

Of course, the park had drastically altered in my absence. Gone was the main attraction, THE SLIDE: That simple structure of metal that became the barometer of courage for generations of little boys and girls trying to become masters of their own confusing, ever-changing worlds.

Now, it’s hard to estimate how tall the slide actually was. No doubt it wasn’t the hundred-foot image I had of it as a child. Whatever its actual size, at that time, it was daunting to my friends and me. Access to this particular slide was gained by climbing up a ladder to a platform. This platform provided a path to two slides at right angles to each other. Conquering the slide was accomplished in stages that were well followed by your playground peers. It was a process that took many years and each stage was a rite of passage.

Stage one consisted of being able to climb the ladder without mommy or daddy being directly behind you. Stage two was accomplished by climbing back up to the platform by scampering up the slide instead of using the ladder. Stage three meant sitting on wax paper as you slid down the slide--a truly scary experience the first few times (Indeed, warp speed had yet to enter our vocabulary, but if it had we certainly would have used it).

Next came the courage to climb over the railing on the platform and slide down the center support pole like a fireman. The fifth and final test was reversing that process by climbing back up the pole and maneuvering yourself onto the platform. Not something for the faint of heart, as at one point you are dangling off the edge of the platform as you prepare to swing a leg up to secure a hold.

As I sat on the park bench I marveled at the intensity of my struggles to master THE SLIDE. It consumed me and I must admit a lot of my self-image at the time hinged on my success or failure at the various stages. I wished I could somehow go back in time and tell my ‘little boy self? that he is something greater than his perceived successes and failures. To not waste life by judging his worth by whether he is keeping up with his peers or not. Then it occurred to me that perhaps in thirty-five years I would look back at my current struggles in the same light. My self-image is certainly being affected now by my current successes and failures. Perhaps, now too, I am something more.

I left the park much lighter in spirit and with a smile upon my face. Life is indeed a beautiful journey.

Author's Bio: 

David A. Cronin is Content Manager for the Mind Body Soul
Network. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, both in print
and on the Internet. He has been teaching spirituality in one form or
another since 1974.

More of his writings can be found at He can be
reached at