Life is hard. There is suffering and joy and a myriad of things beyond our control. There are billions of other people, unpredictable circumstances, and more to think about than our brains can comprehend.
We are trying to figure out what to do and how to do it and when and if it has meaning. The whole thing is like a dizzying kaleidoscope.
Human living has a pattern. It has been built, for better or worse, around a system, a framework. We call this system THERE-HERE-PATH (or ‘THP’). Quite simply, THP is how life works. If it seems simple, it is because it is woven in the fabric of all existence. If it seems vague, it is because it is a framework each individual must build on, putting flesh to the bone.
All The Examples
THP consists of three arenas: THERE – where we are trying to get. HERE – our current reality. And PATH – the route we plan to take to get from HERE to THERE.
I want to be healthy (THERE) but I am out of shape and overweight (HERE) so I am going to go on a diet and begin to exercise (PATH).
I want to cross the street (T). I am on this side of the street with legs and a traffic light (H). I will wait for the walking-man signal and take steps across the street (P).
I want to be a good husband (T). I have my family background, my insecurities and gifts and a woman I love (H). I’m going to communicate with my beloved and work toward unity in creating our new family together (P).
I want to have breath that smells good (T). MY breath stinks (H). I’ll chew this piece of gum (P).
Our family wants to go to Niagara Falls (T). We live in Nevada (H). We bought a map and loaded the car and are heading northeast (P).
Our organization wants to make money (T). We have an idea and skilled professionals (H). We are marketing and producing a product consumers will want to buy (P).
The Framework for Life
Every human endeavor follows this framework. Big or small, personal or communal, THP is the way we do things in this world. It is the way we think about things and the process by which we operate.
If this sounds kind of basic, it is because it is. You already know this, do this, and are an expert at THP, at least in terms of theory. A lot of fads and fables will tell you that we have to create something brand new to solve our problems. There is a lot of money to be made in flashy new short-cut schemes. But the true secret to transformation is to properly use what you already know and are already doing. With intention, take up the braided fabric of this world and guide yourself and those you are in community with toward the life you long for.
It is so easy for us to get distracted or discouraged. We adopt false Theres, something we inherit from the expectations of others. We run from the most transformational THP because we are afraid to fail. We are running through THP but the results don’t look like what we hoped they would.
The same framework that works for tying your shoes or crossing the street or driving across the country works for more transformational visions. A THERE that is harder to reach, impossible to grasp our hands around (something like love or purpose) must still be pursued using this same formula. We want a Transcendent Life but we want transcendence to feel a little more grounded. So we jump overboard on our current THP when it starts to feel too grand, too out of control, too unmanageable.
None of this negates the unavoidable fact. If we want to accomplish anything in life, from making breakfast to developing character to finding purpose, we must honor and follow the framework of life. We spend too much time complaining about it or looking for shortcuts. This is it. THP. It is the way life works. We can ignore it to our own confusion. Despise it to our own demise. Or embrace it as the journey to transformation.