In undergrad, my worldviews professor, Dr. Brad Daniel, asked us to keep a quote journal. My favorite quote in my twenties was by Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. I, the adventurer, realized that landscapes, as alluring as they were, only satisfied a piece of my discovery. I (the rock climber, the backpacker, the canoer, the camper, and the sailor) became cognizant that adventure was deeper than location or activity. Discovery was about becoming.
I even attended a three-week backpacking program, when I was 19, called “Discovery” that taught me the journey was the destination. From that point forward, life was about lingering in the adventure-- questioning, asking, probing, seeking, putting one foot in front of the others at times and hiking the dang mountain, and sticking my oar in the stream and paddling hard. I learned to be content in almost all situations: bear attacks, starvation, lack of money, sleeping on hard ground, large overstuffed backpacks, paddling upstream, carrying 15 foot canoes on my back during portages, rescuing others, running trails to meet provisions, putting up tarps in the rain, and frostbite to name a few. Discovery became my motto and I received a degree in Outdoor Education, which was about leading others to discovery.
Overtime, my understanding of “the journey” even influenced my family road trips. Charlie, my husband, would have to stop numerous times on our way across the state for me to take a picture, visit my favorite gelato shop, or walk my dog at a rest area. I believed that the journey was worth it and the destination did not really matter. Because of this I spent twenty one years allowing it all in and seeking to not control life. I did not always succeed, and at times, I utterly failed, but I lived an authentic truthful journey. Today, while at Harvard University studying for my second master’s degree I heard these words from my yoga teacher. She read them as we laid still in “savasana” dead man’s pose and I wept as she spoke.
By Danna Faulds
There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.
I’ve lived discovery. I have allowed grace to carry me to higher ground in tough situations that I could not control or corral. I’ve experience deep loss: in motherhood, in career, in purpose, in passion, and in vision. However, in the midst of that loss, I bear the truth, am intimately honest, and somehow have come out the other side full of grace.
In September 2017, I met with Brad Daniel, Ben & Nancy Fortson, and Jay Guffey, three former professors of Outdoor Education and my female mentor, to explain that my faith was lost. After having to choose if I was still an evangelical to work at Montreat College, I chose that I was not. It placed me in a deep spiral of doubt: Was God real? Was he Jesus? Was he a he? Was I a sinner? A Saint? Was I lost? Found? A heretic or a hero? Somehow, these friends reminded me that GOD was big enough and deep enough to handle my discovery, and my winter of doubt went on.
Today, I stand on Harvard’s campus, my feet on cobblestone. I walk the stairs to the pearly Widener Library and sit among scholars. My lunch tables are filled with men and woman from Egypt, Qatar, Korea, Japan, France, New Zealand, China, the Philippines, Canada, Germany and Mexico. We stand together to discover new and exciting solutions to the world’s global problems. With the wisdom of Einstein we spend 95% of our time questioning and 5% of our time solving. We are the living breathing discovery.
While, I wish I could say that I arrived as an undergrad awake, the reality is that I was a zombie half asleep wondering the streets. I had no idea what I was becoming, or who I where I was going. My impact or mission in society was completely undeveloped (hence the reason why I would never had been at an Ivy League at 18). Harvard accepts 4.59% of students. They are looking for scholars that are top of their class and who know they can change the world. At 18, I was far from that, I could barely make it to class without Jay Guffey’s morning wake-up call. Call me a late bloomer, but today at 39 years old, I arrive awake.
I can contribute tons of reasons for my new found eyes, but I will give you this one to munch on. Discovery, this three-week backpacking trip I lived, taught me that the journey (e.g. the honesty and allowing in ALL of life and God’s deep grace) is so worth it. Additionally, when you get to the destination (i.e. the mountain peak, the class 4 rapid, or the night’s campsite) you stop, inhale, giggle, and take a seat to watch the sunset or revel in the wildness of a river. You stand arms out wide thankful. You engage the world with new eyes.