The Path You Can't Ignore
On the very first day of this very new year, I finally convinced myself to go for a walk on a wooded trail just outside my neighbourhood; one that I’ve been avoiding for more than two years. Two years! Why the avoidance? Well, there was the fact that I didn’t know what it would be like, what kind of trail it was or where it led - the unknown of it all held me back. I imagined it narrow, uneven, muddy, lots of bothersome, overhanging branches and probably way too long. But actually, the real reason was that as soon as that trail caught my attention, I mentioned it to someone and that ONE person immediately responded that it was a bit dangerous. “Be careful if you go down that trail”, he said, “you never know what’s there.” And with no more fact or information than that, I let a belief build up in my own head and heart about that particular path. Unsafe. Too risky. Not for me.
Have you ever done that? Do you let the fears, opinions, perspectives of others override your curiousities, intuitions, interests? Do you lean towards something new that you’d like to try or an idea that you think you can make real in the world – and then let the slightest hint of skepticism derail the whole thing? I wonder, what marvellous moments, what paths full of potential, what parts of the lives we’re meant to live, have been lost by listening to the fears and criticisms of other people?
A couple of days ago, on January 1st, in the spirit of a new year, I put on my boots, grabbed my hat and walked that trail! And, you know what? It was nothing like I’d expected. It was easier and wider and brighter. It had way more people on it than I’d imagined. It held surprises, it revealed new terrain, it introduced me to a river that I barely knew existed. I didn’t like everything about it but so what? I discovered a gift that had been waiting there all along while I steadfastly talked myself out of being open to receiving it.
I know it doesn’t always work out that way; and I know that we need to trust the intuitions that keep us safe from real harm. But in our work for change and because of the lives we’re choosing to live, we must take calculated risks, we need to experiment enough to know what’s what, we have to put ourselves out there, with or without our own and others’ certainty.
If you’ve got an idea, a hunch, if something is calling to you right now – go find out what’s there! Take some steps down an unknown path that you just simply can’t ignore. I’m so grateful to have finally travelled down that trail that had been waiting to know me. On the very first day of this very new year, I needed to walk that trail and meet that river - to live into the lesson of courageously listening to my own voice.