The Path

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I think Hiking is Walking’s more attractive twin.  Maybe it’s just me, but the word hike sounds so much more sturdy.  And substantial.  Like you’re actually accomplishing something.  Walk reminds me of the vacant-eyed mall-walkers with their jogging pants swishing.  Sneakers squeaking.

Regardless of the name, they both involve a path. And the path itself is something I’ve been gnawing on.  There’s a reason The Path is a major symbol and motif in literature.  It’s something relatable.  Simple.  Linear.  (Thank you, Robert Frost.)

We all begin on the path with high hopes, and even higher expectations.  We swallow the belief that if we do __________, we will be ______________.  We pack our tools.  We look at our map.  And we go.

On this path, we pass lots of people.  Some are literally stopping to smell the flowers.  Others running/heaving to get ahead.  Many are alone.  Others travel in packs.  But the thing about the path, is that we each get to choose.  We choose our pace.  We choose our direction.  We choose our traveling companions.  We choose our shortcuts and scenic routes.  And when we can’t choose the weather/terrain/altitude, we at least get to choose our attitude.

There are some things I’ve learned about hiking on The Path.

1. Allow plenty of time.  You have to give yourself grace if you’re not where you hoped to be a certain time.  It’s okay.

2. Expect to get dirty.  Your shoes will get dusty.  Your hair matted.  Your shirt and socks sweaty.  Also okay.

3. You don’t have to follow the crowd.  In fact, I wouldn’t.  Peace comes quietly.  Unexpected.  It shows up in the slants of sunlight shooting through the leaves and the birds calling above the breeze.  Crowds drown it out.

4. Know when to quit.  Be aware of your limits.  There is no shame in stopping.  Or resting.  In turning around or asking for help.  Again, it’s okay.

Maybe your path, like mine, has taken you in a direction you weren’t expecting.  Or maybe, we’ll look back one day and realize that the brokenness led to a place of absolute beauty.

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