A Journey in Life
Where are we heading?
by Helen Bryant (revised, originally published in 2014)
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!
- How did you all come to school today? On your way in, whether by foot or some form of transport, what were you doing? Perhaps you were on your phone, listening to music, learning your French vocab, doing your homework or just looking out of the window.
If you were cycling in, I hope that most of the time, you were paying attention to the cars and the road. However, it is OK sometimes for your mind to wander a little, 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 had they been up worrying about things? Were they thinking about what they had to do during the day ahead or just concentrating on getting to work?
- When you cycle, you sometimes overtake vehicles that catch you up later. You may well follow some other cyclists all the way into town or they may turn off at traffic lights or go down another road.
- This got me thinking of that old metaphor of life being like a journey.
Of course, most of the time, when we are on our journey to school, we at least know where we are going – hopefully.
Life, however, is not quite as straightforward as that. None of us knows where we are going. We may well start down one road only to discover that we hadn’t paid attention to the dead-end sign at the start, so we might have to backtrack and find another route.
- Continuing our metaphor, I got thinking about traffic lights too. All drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians are required to stop at a red light. Those moments of waiting give us a chance to be still and reflect, to consider the moment that we are in and think about what is ahead. If you don’t stop, but carry on instead, you may well hit something. Red lights are there to make us pause, to allow other traffic to pass.
- The crossroads and junctions that we encounter on our journey to school are mirrored in our lives too. There are certain choices that we must 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 this year, deciding what you will study at GCSE. Likewise, those of you who are 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 as well as possible. Those of you choosing which university to go to will also be facing a crossroads that could change the course of your life.
- Crossroads in life can be scary and frightening. When we are travelling to school, though, we know which way to turn and what our final destination is. What if we are lost? The crossroads could take us back to where we want to be or make us even more lost. We don’t know, so we just have to take a deep breath and go with our instincts.
That can be very much what life is like. We don’t know what lies down most of the turnings at a crossroads. This is probably best, though, because if we knew the future and what it held for us, we would never face any challenges. Life would 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’re on a journey - maybe on your way home from school today - 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.
It’s worth spending some time thinking about the year ahead. You will face change and uncertainty, but there are some decisions that you can make now to help you to face the future. You can decide to make good choices.