Life Is A Journey
by Helen Bryant
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider where we are going, where others may be going and how our lives change direction.
Preparation and materials
- None required, but, if you come to work by bicycle, you could ride it into assembly and play ‘Bicycle race’ by Queen as you do so if you like.
- How did you all come to school? I rode/walked/drove here.
On your way in, whether by foot or some form of transport, what were you doing? Chances are you were on your phone, but you may have been practising your French vocab or listening to the radio or just looking out of the window.
If you were cycling, I hope, most of the time, you were paying attention to the cars and the road, though sometimes it is OK for your mind to wander, just as mine did on the way in today.
- I thought about where everyone else was going, where they were headed on their morning journey. How were they feeling, had they had a decent night’s sleep or been up worrying about things? Were they thinking about what they had to do in the day ahead or just concentrating on getting to work.
- When you cycle, you sometimes overtake vehicles that then catch you up. You may well follow some other cyclists all the way in to town or they may turn off at traffic lights or to go down another road.
- This got me thinking that life is a little bit like a journey in to school or work, except that, most of the time, when you are on your journeys to school or work, you at least know where you are going – hopefully.
- Life, however, it is not quite as straightforward as that. None of us knows where we are going. We may well start down one road and discover we hadn’t paid attention to the dead end sign at the start of it. So, we may well have to backtrack and find another route.
Thinking about traffic lights, too, all cars, cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, stop at a red light (or at least they should do). Those moments of waiting give us a chance to be still and reflect, to consider the moment we are in and think about what is ahead. If you don’t stop and carry on, you may well hit something. Red lights are there to make us pause, to allow other traffic to pass.
- I also considered the idea of crossroads and junctions. In our lives, we have moments when we reach a crossroad or junction. We have certain choices to make that will determine our direction for the next part of our lives. For example, those of you in Year 9 will be choosing your options, what you will study at GCSE. Likewise, those of you facing important exams have a choice – to knuckle down and work hard to achieve your best grades or take your foot off the gas and do OK, but not brilliantly. Those of you choosing which university to go to will also be facing a crossroads that could change the course of your life. I met my husband through a friend at university, but if I’d got the A level results I needed to go to another university, that would never have happened.
- Crossroads in life can be scary and frightening. The person going to work or school, though, knows which way to turn and what his or her final destination is. What if you are lost? The crossroads could take you back to where you want to be or make you even more lost. You don’t know, so you just have to take a deep breath and go with your instincts.
I think that is very much what life is like. You don’t know what lies down most of the turnings at crossroads, which is probably best because, if we knew the future and what it held for us, we would never face any challenges and probably be very dull as a result. Change and challenge are character-building and those experiences make us learn a lot about ourselves, our resilience and our fortitude.
Time for reflection
The next time you are on a journey, consider the other people in their cars, on their bikes or walking. Where are they going?
If you can, see your life as a journey. One day, those crossroads might just change your life.