We’ve all gone down paths that we were told we should go down. We toddle down the path for a while and then stop and think; Hang on, this doesn’t seem right…
When someone else sets our course – or worse still, demands it – we can’t wait to escape and forge our own path in life. Other times we might not consciously choose a direction, but simply flow down whatever path that presents itself. To make an impact in this world, we need to be doing our own thing, in our own way, and travelling our own path.
If you’re not on your own path, then you’re lost.
The golden rule when lost is to STOP! and wait to be found.
In this case it’s a call to STOP! and wait for inspiration to discover the path that’s right for you.
Once you know where you want to go, and which paths will likely take you there, your journey can begin. These paths can be treacherous though, and there are a few things you should know however far you already are into your travels.
Please pick up your hiking pole, walk with me, and I’ll explain.
At first we bound along our path full of enthusiasm and joy. The excitement of a new journey sustains us with its hope and energy. While we are busy, the path begins to change. We look around to find it has become dark and mysterious. There are ferns hidden in the mist, and we trip over rotting logs and imagine evil eyes staring back at us. We become fearful of what is around the next corner.
– Then our path may lead us into the desert, where we constantly slip on sand dunes and feel like we are not making any progress. Frustrated, we feel sun-burnt and that our brain is frying from the relentless heat and pressure.
– Or perhaps we find ourselves trudging through knee-deep snow with nothing but coldness surrounding us. Blinding snow distorts the path, and icy winds cut into us. We are completely on our own, and the mountains that we can just make out in the distance appear insurmountable.
– Then there are rocks, nothing but rocks! We climb on them, trip on them, and sit on them. We scrape ourselves and cry on them. Our energy is drained and we wonder if this path will ever end.
– Sometimes we find ourselves frolicking through open meadows that are bursting with wild flowers. Birds alight on our shoulders, the sun warms our face, and we feel nothing is impossible – nothing!
– Next, the path might lead to a dry open field. A recent ploughing has destroyed the path, so we wander over here, and then we wander over there, not really knowing how to find the path again. We spend a lot of time just wondering and wandering.
– We could face a jungle where this is no path. We must hack and chop and sweat our way through the tangling vines. We feel exhausted and claustrophobic, but remind ourselves that we are making a path for ourselves, and those who will follow after us.
– Occasionally we can be found sitting in the middle of a country crossroad among the dust and gravel; slightly paralysed, morose from constant decision making, and overwhelmed by our journey.
It’s important to remember that whatever path we find ourselves on, a new adventure might just be around the corner. We might frolic and enjoy our times among the wildflowers, only to turn and face a rocky mountain of stones and frightening ledges. Or just when we think we won’t be able to stand the sight of another sand-dune, a forest will appear on the horizon.
The length of each path is undetermined too. Swallowed by despair, it’s easy for us to decide – I’m on the wrong path, I’m going back. And this is a perfectly acceptable decision to make. We should all aim to know ourselves well enough, to be honest about whether retreating from a path is what is right for us, or is merely a convenient excuse.
When we choose to continue in spite of the hardships we are facing, we should take time to stop and really admire the path we are on. Study those logs and toadstools, crunch that snow, and filter that sand through our hands.
Accepting the route our path is taking, instead of complaining about its length will teach us invaluable lessons.
Enter the misty dark path with a sense of excitement and wonder, and the fear will melt away. The desert paths teach us about dealing with our own frustration and impatience, and how could we ever hope to be strong and sure footed without having all those darn rocks to climb?
An open field can teach us to search, study, and investigate while we wait for inspiration, and the thick jungle path trains us to be bold trailblazers. Struggling through a snow path will always teach us an appreciation of forgotten warmth and the depth of our own tenacity.
When we feel like we’re sitting in the middle of the dusty crossroad, this is our cue to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and be kind to ourselves. The answers and the direction we seek will be revealed to us when we least expect it; not when we’re sitting depressed and cross-legged in the dirt.
Don’t forget that while the meadows filled with wildflowers might be a joyful place to rest for a season, there will always be a new path of growth beckoning us.
It’s only when we stop seeing the wonder and excitement of our path, that we begin to complain.
In this state it’s so easy to look at someone else’s path and wish with all our hearts that we were climbing rocks instead of wandering around in an empty field.
One path is never better than another.
Wherever you are on your path in this very minute is where you are meant to be.
The ability to change paths, create a new one, double back, sit and wait, or keep travelling your path, is entirely up to you.
When you’re on your path,
and facing forward,
there can be no doubt you’re heading in the right direction.