The Road Not Taken
Today is a beautiful day. The presence of the sun does not matter. The temperature is irrelevant. It is a day of new expectations. It is an opportunity to take another step along the path. Ahh, the Path. The path of knowledge and enlightenment. Our path of discovery. Your path as well. The only path. A new day. A beautiful one.
The journey is not one that spans a single day. Or a week, or even a lifetime. The destination has less importance than the journey itself. The end of the path is more a concept than an actual eventuality. There is no tangible goal. This is not a competition, unless it be one with ourselves. The interesting part is what we do, what we choose to do, while we wander the path of life. What we experience, and what we learn from that experience. How we transform that into something positive in our lives, and the lives of those with whom we come in contact. We travel the road to grow. If we do that, the destination turns into a direction more than an objective.
The Road Not Taken. What that means to each of us is as diverse as the grains of sand on a beach. It is, and will be, what we want it to be, what we determine it should be. Our actions will define its validity and its eventual value. The path should be simple, so we may enjoy the trip and be able to make progress, and it should be as difficult as possible to ensure that we expand knowledge and capabilities. Challenges bring a certain richness to our experience. Setting the bar too low results in little or no satisfaction, or growth, while a bar set too high can cause frustration and slow the growth we can achieve.
We must push ourselves to the limit, but who or what creates those limits? We do. But not we for us. You for yourself, and I for myself. In reality, the journey we undertake is a solitary one, irrespective of how many people seemingly walk along with you. They are also on their own paths, choosing their own direction and facing their own challenges. And we all must do so alone. The first obstacle on the path is that definition of the path itself. What exactly do you wish to achieve with this undertaking, and when will you start? The reality is that you have already begun your walk, with your first living breath, whether you know it or not. Whether you understand it or not is another matter. Everyone has goals. Even nothing can be a goal, albeit results can be somewhat undefined. We all wander indiscriminately, at times. There is nothing wrong with that, but you must realize that when you float on the river of time, it takes you in directions of its own choosing, directions you may neither expect nor enjoy. It takes you where it wants to go. It is irresistible and unstoppable. But it is easy, at least the trip, if not the end result. To go somewhere specific takes focus and determination. It takes clarity and understanding. Understanding of self. If you want money, or power, or celebrity, these things can be a goal, but they tend to control your path, instead of the other way around. To explore and recognize self gives you the freedom to realize those other things, but you may find along the way that those other things lose their flavor and immediacy as your path takes on a deeper meaning as you get to know yourself and start to enjoy your own company, and your own journey of discovery. You can have no greater ally and friend than yourself. Loving another is enjoyable and noble. Loving yourself is an imperative if you ever wish to truly love another.
So what’s in this for me? This journey to who knows where. Why should we care about all the time and effort needed to realize an ill-defined goal along an unknowable and vague trail leading us through the mists of the future to a possibly unattainable and nonexistent benefit? What’s that? There ya go! You are starting to put it all in perspective. There is no well-defined endpoint because…..it is irrelevant. It is NOT about the destination. It IS all about the trip to get there. Everything undefined is definable. By you. For you. And you can start whenever you are ready. Benefits? I have yet to see an individual that does not benefit and grow, at least in some small way, from introspection and self-discovery. For me personally, I like to think that never a day goes by that I have not progressed, in some way, no matter how small, from traversing along my private little path. I feel blessed, and yes, I believe there are benefits. Are they guaranteed? They say there are no guarantees in life, except death and taxes. I am hoping to avoid the former with second chances at life, so I guess that leaves only taxes, and the only thing about death in this life is that you escape the tax man, at least for a time. No, there are no guarantees. You will inevitably reap what you have sown, and there will always be the potential for a benefit. But no, no guarantees.
You walk your path, a path of your own choosing. You create it. You decide direction. You implement the plan, and your actions determine success. No one makes these choices for you, because that would mean you walk along the path of another. You have to sort all of this out for yourself, in your own way and at your own pace. This is not a race against time, but a stroll with yourself, along the path of life, which takes place one small step at a time. Enjoy the journey. Get to know yourself better. Become friends with yourself. But you do have another friend. A tool that is instrumental in organizing your thoughts and your dreams, your expectations and your direction for the rest of your lives. That friend is philosophy, who will help you to navigate through indecision and confusion. It is the tool that brings clarity to thought and structure to chaos. Implore it to help you. Listen to its advice. Embrace its simplicity. Once you have defined your path, take the first step. The road you take will be exhilarating. It is exciting. The wonder of discovery. The surprise of the unexpected. The joy of understanding. And what awaits you at the end of the road, if there is indeed one? Something wonderful. Something unexpected, although you should have already known. You will meet yourself, and it will be a good thing. Worth all the time, and worth all the effort. And then you can start on another path, another life.
And it will be another beautiful day!