Have you ever discovered a saying or proverb that really resonated with you? Perhaps you wrote it down and kept it in a special place. You looked at it often enough that you had it memorized. But after a while, it didn’t have the same impact on you that it used to have.
“Way leads on to way”, a line from the Robert Frost poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” is that kind of phrase for me. It describes the idea that even when we make plans for our lives, we don’t know if they will actually come to pass. Simply taking a step can lead us in a different direction than we first intended to go.
For me it became a good reminder not to make too many detailed plans for my life. Often when I have made plans for what to do next, they didn’t come to pass. Like when I decided to relocate to a new city in Japan, applied for what I thought would be the perfect job, interviewed for it and then didn’t the job. Later on, when I learned more about that school, I realized that I would not have been happy working there, even though I had been convinced that it would be the perfect place for me.
“Way leads on” is actually a Quaker idea.* We can try to identify what the next step in our career or life should be, but we don’t know where this step will lead us. Despite that, we step out in trust and faith, knowing that the results of this step will lead us to the next step.
We have to take the first step before we find out what the next step will be.
* I’ve also read about “way leads on” in Parker Palmer’s writing (probably in The Courage to Teach, but can’t cite it now since I’m on vacation without the notes on my laptop and writing this my phone.)