I was out on a walk yesterday and I planned to take the same route that I always do. I know every single nook and cranny along that pathway, I know how long it takes me, I know exactly where I am and it is a safe route to take. But yesterday a path caught my eye and I just wondered... where did it lead? Where would it take me? What might I find?
Part of me was telling me to go the way I always do. Stay on track. You have things to do. You can't waste time. It is raining - you will get soaked. What if you get lost? What if you end up in trouble? What if... what if... what if....
And many times in the past I would have listened to that voice. That protective ego. Telling me to stick with the safe route. But yesterday I felt brave, and confident, and adventurous. I thought to myself... how will I know if I don't try? So I walked down the path.
I instantly felt lighter and a little bit excited. I wondered where it would take me, I noticed the difference in this path - the way the trees arched over to create a little tunnel and the way I could see a field far in the distance which was like a beacon of light at the end of the dark row of trees.
I followed the path (and the dog!) and wound up in the back of a housing estate. Not where I expected to find myself. I thought about turning back and going the way I came - because I knew where that would take me. What if I got lost? I hadn't planned on walking round a housing estate - this was not how I thought it would look. My ego tried to send me back, but I decided to continue and embrace the uncertainty of taking a different route.
I knew that I would get somewhere I knew eventually. I followed a few roads, a few footpath signs, and my natural instincts, and sure enough I came to a main road where I knew I could take a private road back towards home. I laughed at myself and the fact that my escape into nature had turned into a hike along a busy road - but I still felt happy and lighthearted about the fact I had tried a different path.
As I walked along the private road I discovered some beautiful houses, horses in fields and some gorgeous trees - things I wouldn't have even known existed unless I had tried to go down a different path. Eventually I came across some more familiar sites and ended up in one of my favourite fields overlooking an incredibly beautiful wise old tree. I hadn't planned on coming there but I was so glad I did.
I came home bedraggled but happy. My 50 minute walk turned into a 2.5 hour adventure - just me and Pickle - and I felt really empowered for having spent that time alone with myself and having had the courage to take a route I wouldn't have normally done.
What's your point Lauren?!
The reason I wanted to share this, is not to encourage you all to go out and get lost in nature (although that in itself can be one of the most healing things in my opinion) but more to ask the question... If you don't try taking a different path, how will you ever know where it could lead? How will you know how strong and courageous you could be? How will you ever know what else is out there waiting for you to discover it on a magical adventure?
Yes... it might not lead you where you wanted, or where you thought, but there will be a lesson in that. I probably wouldn't take that exact path again because walking around a housing estate isn't my vision of a healing walk. However I don't regret doing it, trying something different and being faced with a little uncertainty. I have still learned from that experience and I still enjoyed the process.
As we come to the end of 2016 I noticed myself going down the same path I have over the past ten years. Stress. Overwhelm. A rush to get Christmas over with and onto the new year. A feeling of not having enough right now and of rushing to the next thing. But then I realised that I could take a different path. I could make this time a fun, exciting and loving one. It could be all about family and friends, sharing delicious food and giving love and kindness - not just to others but also to myself.
So next time you are faced with the option of two paths - check in with your heart and see if you can dare to go a little off track and discover where it leads you.
If you don't try a different route, take a new path, choose another track... how will you ever never know if there is perhaps something else out there waiting for you?