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What We Can Learn From Leaning Into Difficulty

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One truism of a genuine pilgrimage is that the wisdom we bring home is completely unexpected. We depart determined to figure out how to be more effective at work, only to find ourselves coming home to quit our job before we head to Spain to tutor Basque kids. We head to Tibet determined to leave behind a lover, only to call her a month into the trek to tell her we are finally ready to commit. We ride our bike across the country to mend a broken heart and learn how to be on our own, only to meet a fellow cyclist on the road and fall in love—permanently.There’s more. Once we’ve returned from a pilgrimage and look back at the adventure, we see that hints of the lessons we needed to learn were everywhere.When I went on a pilgrimage to South Korea some 13 years ago, clues that my biggest lesson would be to “lean in” to life’s challenges started on day one. We were standing at the airport in Seoul waiting for a ride to our first monastery when a brochure fell off the information booth next to me. Picking it up, I expected to see photos of  smiling hikers on Mount Chiri. Instead it was a list of admonitio …

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