Life is like a hike through the woods without a trail map; you may think you’re on one path, but in truth you are on another.
Recently, I went for what was supposed to be a short jaunt in the woods, five hours and nine miles later we emerged back into civilization. I wont lie, there were some tears, especially when the water and crackers ran out, but after a good night’s rest and some food in our bellies, we were making plans to go again. Some of the best adventures in life are unintentional, the hardship comes from the lack of preparation.
Though we had intended for about an hour’s walk, this new path allowed us to dip our feet (multiple times) into the cool waters of the mountain, be dazzled by butterflies, and be sheltered by mass coves of rhododendron bushes. Most importantly, this different direction allowed us to see just how truly capable we are to overcome obstacles and to push through.
Sure, we could have turned around at some point, played it safe knowing precisely how far it was to go in that direction, but then we would be repeating the trail, going over the same terrain which would have been a bit boring. There was also the uncertainty as to whether or not turning back was the shortest route out or if pushing forward would deliver us to water a bit quicker. In addition to new things to see, there was the excitement of a shared adventure. We talked, laughed, took pictures, and in general made a memory that will last far longer than the trail did.
Tired, hungry, and a bit sore, we emerged victorious with time left to still make the drive-in movie. Like all misadventures in life, you get a story to tell, an experience to share. I am confident that we would have had just as much fun on the shorter walk we had intended, but the derailed plan gave us a bonding moment and allowed us to discover a bit more about ourselves along the way.
My life is not the path I originally set out on upon graduating high school, but I wouldn’t travel any other route. On this journey I have acquired experiences that I never thought possible – both good and bad – and each one has allowed me to realize my potential and my strengths by taking me outside of my comfort zone.
Living is going to give you a few bruises and you may even suffer a bit of dehydration, but you will see glimmers of hope, markers to assure you that you are not lost, just on a different path. It goes much smoother if you embrace the journey, tears and all. And when it’s all said and done, learn to smile and laugh about the ordeal if for no other reason than the satisfaction of knowing you braved the journey.
You can’t get out of the woods if you quit walking.