The Thrill of a New Path

August 21, 2015

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved paths.

Walking on them, biking on them – all the while loving the mystery of where they took me. The Thrill of a New Path.

That love has only grown stronger as I’ve grown older. I don’t need to search for them, they just seem to appear at the right time.

Just last week in Northern Michigan, I came upon a number of them while walking the country roads or hiking in the woods.

Back home, on mornings when I bike by the river, I traverse through a tiny little city park and always opt to take the path that cuts through it, rather than the easy way around.

No kidding, my heart skips a little beat and I feel like a kid again as I weave my way through the trees and park benches. It only takes me about thirty seconds, but it’s so worth it.

When I lived in NYC, there was a special path down by the water in Battery Park City where I would always ride my bike. As I got off the tourist-laden main walkway, I would feel for a moment like I was deep in the forest (albeit on concrete). There’s a private little spot with some large boulders and a park bench. Sometimes I would stop to rest, eat my lunch, read a book or meditate.

Now I love to photograph paths as much as set foot or bike on them. There’s such a mystery about them. Where do they lead? Back where you started out? To a dead end? Or to something so incredible it takes your breath away.

Starting out on a hike in the woods last week, my daughter and I came to a fork in the path. The left side was unmarked but the other said, “Keep Out”. So we went left and laughed when the path eventually ended at the “Keep Out” sign.

You know where I’m headed, don’t you?

This is all such a metaphor for the paths we find ourselves on in our lives.

Talking about “your path” has become almost a cliche in the world of spirituality. But there’s no denying the impact our choices regarding right or wrong paths (some would say there is no right or wrong path – only the one meant for us) make in our lives.

I’ve learned that when faced with a big decision or life change looming ahead, turning to Mother Nature for answers can be just the ticket. Sometimes I do it consciously, but more often than not it just happens. Like being on the path.

That’s why when I’m stuck, or sad, or anxious, I nudge myself outside to be with the trees, the sun, the moon, the clouds, the water, the earth.

When you live in the city, it’s all too easy to hole up inside. I’ve been guilty of it this year and have had to make a conscious choice to fight against that becoming a bad habit.

And each time I step outside it’s like a veil is lifted and answers start to come to me. Almost the same as in a dream or a meditation.

There’s a correlation with everything in our life and Nature. Both the good and the bad. This is a polarity planet, after all.

The sun can illuminate us, give us energy, but it can burn us, too. We say things like “She has a sunny disposition” or “He’s burned me too many times.”

The wind can sweep away stagnant air and cool us down. But it can also be a destructive force.

And on and on.

I was ruminating about these things and came home to find this timely wisdom in my inbox from my friend, Brita.

“This moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted, and shaky – that’s called liberation.” – Pema Chodron

Whatever path you choose (or as Ralph Waldo Emerson suggests – go where there is no path and make your own), enjoy the mystery and let it unfold, knowing that your life mirrors Nature in all her ever-changing glory.

  1. Oh my, yes, my thoughts exactly. I tend to take the path less traveled by and frankly have ended up in danger a couple of times. But I did make it out ok and the memories have become adventures. And I persist and did it again this summer despite a mad warning from a group of crows as I entered the dark woods.

    And yes, i too, love love love photos of paths, especially photos of paths beyond archways or doors. Did you ever read The Secret Garden when you were a kid?

    I too have spent too much time indoors this year. I’m seeing it as a period of germination and feel myself starting to come out of it. And yes, nature is so important and gives us so much. As someone recently said, it’s not that we’re part of nature, we ARE nature along with the trees and the rocks and the animals.

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