I’ve been thinking a lot about paths lately—envisioning them, capturing them digitally, and wondering why some people prefer a clear path in life while others figure it out along the way. Last summer, I completed a fairly challenging hike in Scotland with my family. Once at the top of the mountain, which had involved a steep but obvious trail on the ascent, I realized that there was no clear way down. Mud and running water made it difficult to see which way would get us down safely. I tried to find the pre-determined “official” path, but after some slipping and sliding, I chose to head down an unmarked, muddy course, even though it seemed a little scary at first. I couldn’t help but see the life lessons to be learned, and we all came away from that experience facing some realizations about ourselves. Our reactions to challenges can sometimes show a wish for control or a fear of what lies ahead. Hikes like this one can illuminate a lot about who we are and how we function in the world.
Do you prefer a clearly labeled path? Or are you comfortable ‘winging it’ as you try to find your way? While finding your own path, are you excited about the journey itself or are you just focused on finishing unscathed? By trying to stay present in the moment and trusting our instincts, we can find out a lot about ourselves. Trust yourself, but also those traveling on the path with you. Feel connected as partners or fellow travelers — appreciating the differences in each other's styles and outlooks. Most of all, enjoy the experience itself—and don’t be surprised if the path you choose is different from what you expected.