The open road of life looms demanding before you. A smooth, freshly paved, boring, straight as an arrow, nothing to see but white lines, direct route to wherever it is we are told we need to get to. Many have successfully taken this road before so it’s the logical way. Just follow the tread of those who have made the journey before with society’s turn by turn navigation. Walk with your head up they say, don’t get distracted by the frivolous, and arrive perfectly safe at the same destination as everyone else. because this is the correct way. The way of least heartache. They way it’s supposed to be.
Yet some of us are more attracted to the winding dirt path through the forest that seems to lead everywhere and nowhere at once. The quintessential “hard way” with rutted ground, strange shadows and no clear direction. There’s a few footprints here but not as many. We can hear the rest of the world telling us to follow the road, but we pay little attention. We follow our hearts. Welcome the danger and heartache and dig our bare feet into the illogical nature of the adventure. We enter the thick of the wood and often scare ourselves when we realize the only way to go is forward, and we no longer are sure where forward leads.
It leads somewhere. That is all that is important. And along the way we learn so much about ourselves and how we handle fear, danger, being lost and feeling alone. We learn to depend on ourselves and how to backtrack or face the danger head on. We see the beauty in the darkness and embrace it by following the moonlight. We watch the sun sparkle in between the treetops and are nourished by it. Discovery and exploration, of ourselves, others and the world arouse a spirit in us and keep us engrossed. Those waiting on the paved road get impatient. They shake their heads, roll their eyes and many times walk on because they don’t understand our boldness or revelry. Sometimes we lose people. People who give up on us because we didn’t follow the directions and who can’t see the remarkableness and beauty in the divergent. But we always, every time, arrive somewhere. We may arrive late and filthy, but we arrive strong and grinning.
No, we don’t fit in everywhere. Some may call us crazy or stubborn. They say our emotions make us fragile or weak. So we seek out those like us and continue on our crooked paths, learning from each other. We honor differences and struggles and realize that not everyone can embrace us. Taking the crooked path is not a character flaw. Having your own sense of direction and way of seeing things does not make you abnormal. Everyone struggles with something whether they want to admit it or not, even those who take the easy road. Accepting yourself, leading with your heart, enjoying the scenery are what make us dirt path followers precious and few. We have extraordinary strength and are constantly giving and evolving. We allow our emotions to exist and welcome them instead of shooing them away. We celebrate every little beautiful, silly, frightening moment.
Some say we miss the forest for the trees. I say you experience very little staying on the paved road and wondering what’s out there. Come closer and wander for a little while.
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