When Quakers engage in discernment, often we suggest to each other that if it's meant to be, "way will open." On the internet, I see that "way will open" is also cited as a "Zen proverb," but the full statement of this version is: "Move and way will open."
The experience of way opening is thrilling, affirming, and encouraging. We do feel reassured that we are on the right track when this happens.
But what does it mean when way doesn't open, at least not easily or immediately? It is tempting to take this as a sign that the path we are trying to take is really not the right one, but is this always the case? Social change is often met with resistance at first. If social activists took resistance as a sign that their vision for change is all wrong, nothing would ever change, because all change, being change, meets with at least some resistance. If you study historical examples of transitions from injustice to justice, you see that the resistance can be considerable, and the most successful movements are successful because the activists are prepared for resistance. They expect it, and have strategies for holding strong in the face of it.
So too in our personal lives, times of important discernment are times of personal change, and so some resistance (internal and external) is to be expected. These times of resistance can feel like way NOT opening, and so at these times, discernment can be especially difficult. Do we proceed? If so, how?
I do not have a comprehensive answer to this very important question. I can just speak from experience about one possible answer.
Sometimes if you push and nothing happens, and then push again, perhaps more hesitantly now, and still nothing happens, and then you push yet again, weakly, with growing uncertainty, and then start making token pushes out of habit, and then carefully reassess everything from the ground up all over again, and feel convinced that this really is the right path, and feel frustrated that the universe is not at all helping, and wonder what this all means, and wonder if the whole meaning of your life is going to end in pathetic frustration, and then you push again now fully expecting nothing to continue to happen...
Way still might suddenly open miraculously before your very eyes.
7 years ago