Go Where There Is No Path, And Leave A Trail
Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley – Theodore Roethke
Everything you see in your life at this moment, is the result of choices you have made. The door in the photo is clearly open, but you can’t really see the steps through it or what lies beyond it. Some of the choices you have made in life, lead you in directions that you didn’t even know were there.
Sometimes behind the waterfall, there is a path into a valley that no one has discovered.
Sometimes we fall through a hole in the ground and discover a buried city.
Sometimes we have a flat tire on a desert road, with no spare tire to change it – and we find a dusty path that leads to a hidden cache of gold.
There is always a choice of following a paved road with lots of signs or walking down a dirt path. To stay safe on the paved road or taking on the risk of the unknown dirt path and seeing for yourself the genius of the universal design for your life.
Or never trying to see what is behind the waterfall in the first place (it is dangerous and you might fall down and hurt yourself); to immediately climb out of that hole you fell into without exploring it (it’s probably full of spiders, snakes, and rats) and ignoring the possibilities of discovery all around you; to stay beside that car on the hot desert road and wait for someone to rescue you (so much more sensible than striking out on your own).
So, stop being so worried about the million and one things that can go wrong. Start instead dreaming about, and getting excited about, what is around the next corner.
Whatever you chose to be the next destination, you should always aim just a little higher. If you are aiming for the lower mountain, you won’t know if you could have climbed the higher one instead.
Don’t put off the higher mountain as your goal, thinking that you need to be realistic, that you need to go in small definable steps. As the saying goes, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land on the stars”. Don’t be afraid to get lost. Even landing among the stars, changes you, your world, and maybe even the whole world.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path – Buddha
Friends, loved ones, mentors, teachers – they can all set you on what they think is the right path. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong, and sometimes they are “almost” right.
It is up to you to decide what the correct life path is for us, at this point in your life. No matter what path you take in life, no matter where you go or end up, you take a little bit of everyone you know with you.
Have you heard those voices in your head? Your parents, your favorite aunt or uncle, your grandparents, those special friends from school – those voices that make insane comments about what is taking place in front of you?
Mine are these comedian’s talking commentary during a boring office meeting (picture the old men in the balcony from “The Muppets”). My son Sam’s voice comes into play during movies, when they are doing anything military or medical, telling me they are doing it wrong.
I believe that you have at least three careers in your life, and that they can be completely different.
You shouldn’t confuse the path you are walking with the destination that you are going to.
Once I have mastered something, I get bored. When I get bored, I know it is time to start exploring something new to learn, to have a new destination.
I am still walking my life path, the path of learning more about the world, about me, and what new sights are on the horizon. There are times that the path can be a little blurry, because I haven’t yet discovered where the path is taking me. So, I keep walking and I get curious. I know that when the path gets crystal clear, I have a new destination and new life experiences coming into focus.
You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it – Paulo Coelho
This doesn’t mean that I am just sitting on the path waiting for it to define itself. When I sit, it is like stepping off the deep end of the river and just sinking to the bottom.
If I sit, the world tries to define me. To make me fit someone else’s mold, to do the things that they want me to do and be. Then I lose myself, sitting submerged and wondering why I can’t breathe.
I have to take the time, the effort and the work to define the path, so that each step brings the focus sharper and more defined. I have to swim back up to the surface of the river and determine which shoreline I want to step onto.
Sometimes when you are walking down the path, everything goes wrong. A forest fire races through the valley and destroys all of the vegetation. The river overflows its banks and takes out the bridge you were walking across. A 40-car pile-up in the fog totals your car.
Sometimes what seems like a life ending event, is actually the first step on a new path.
You had expectations of where the path should be taking you, and so you were actually sleep walking down the side path. Because of your expectations, that path might have led you to the correct destination, but without the right experiences.
Have you ever seen someone famous implode right after they achieved critical acclaim for their talents? Hollywood, Politics, Musicians – we’ve all seen them reach a pinnacle of success, then drugs, alcohol, sexual exploitation – and down they tumble into scandal.
Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves – Henry David Thoreau
This is due to them not having strong enough roots to support their growth. Somewhere along the path to finding themselves, they didn’t get lost. They missed valuable life experiences that would have grounded their roots. That would have forced them to grow deeper and discover more about who they were.
Because they didn’t have these valuable experiences, they allowed others even with the best intentions, to rescue them from falling on their face. They covered things up. They didn’t let them experience the results of bad choices when they were small failures. So, they just kept being rescued and didn’t learn the life skills of what failure really means.
What you will discover from failure is that sometimes it is the best thing that ever happened to you.
You see new ways to do something, which would never have happened if everything went according to plan. You discover wonderful character traits that were only exposed because you felt you had no other choice than to force yourself to up your game.
My favorite movie scene is from “Facing the Giants” in the death crawl scene. The player goes all of the way down the entire length of the football field, thinking that he is only trying to make it to the 50-yard line. He couldn’t see where he was, and he was crawling with another player on his back.
At first the coach is only trying to get him to the 50-yard line, then he realizes the player has more in him than either of them knew. You are like that player, capable of so much more. It is the difficult parts of life that open up the possibilities of your tasting some of that greatness you have buried deep inside.
So, remember “to keep the mind even” – not letting doubts or over-confidence tilt us.
The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper – W.B. Yeats
Each day is a new adventure in walking your chosen life path. Each day you can walk it in wonder, looking to see what is going to cross your path today.
You can be curious. You can slow down and actually see what is on your right side, your left side, and directly in front of you. Don’t miss the flowers that you’ve never seen in that color or shape before. Look for the squirrels, bunnies, little lizards laying on the warm rock and enjoying the heat of the day. Rest when you are tired. Walk in the moonlight or lay back and count the stars.
This is your life path, your journey. The world is full of friends, lovers, and new brothers and sisters waiting to get to know you. The destinations are fun to get to, to master some aspect of your life. But really, life is lived on the path, during the step-by-step walking, dancing, singing, along the road to the newest destination. So don’t forget to enjoy it.