“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” . – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life is a fascinating journey. It is always changing and leading us down many different paths, some of which are planned and others that are unexpected. Regardless of whether you like change or not, life is never meant to stay the same. It is impossible. However, how you react to the change is what truly matters.
Last weekend it was a beautiful fall day and I wanted to spend an afternoon with my thirteen year old son outside. We could have done the normal standby mother-son activities like go on a bike ride or walk the dog but this time I wanted to do something a little bit different. I had recently tried a trail running class and truly enjoyed the new challenge. Since my son Max had expressed an interest in running, I thought maybe we should try a mother-son trail run.
We chose Theodore Wirth Regional Park located on the edge of Minneapolis and Golden Valley, which has an extensive labyrinth of running, mountain biking and hiking trails. Max had been there this summer during a biking camp and loved doing a run along one of the challenging, hilly mountain bike trails within the park. I had never run there before so thought it sounded fun. When we arrived at our destination, I felt pretty on top of the world. I love to run and have been a runner all of my adult life. Although I no longer run long distance, I still run year-round even in the cold and feel relatively fit and in shape. My son however is new to running and I was secretly curious to see how he’d do. Would he be able to keep up with me? Would I leave him behind in the dust?
We got out of the car, laced up our shoes and did a few quick stretches before heading off into the woods. The trail we were originally planning to take was closed due to the torrential rain we had over the past couple of days. We would have to take a different path. As we ran into the forest, I looked around me and in every direction there was a different trail. I had no idea where they went, how long they were or which path to take. My carefree teenage son looked at me with a smile and took off running down one of the trails. “Come on mom! he said. “Follow me“. And off he bolted into the woods.
I ran as fast as I could up the trail huffing and puffing thinking how wrong I had been about me being the one who was in shape. Before I knew it my long-legged 6’1” son Max was off like a lightening bolt and gone. I desperately tried to keep up, calling out his name but to no answer. I tend to be rather directionally challenged so my first fear was I’d get lost and my next fear was he would get lost. I yelled out his name in vain. I tried not to get frantic with worry. It was just me, all alone in the thickness of the woods, with paths leading in every direction. I had no idea which way to go.
Suddenly I realized the irony of the situation. How similar this experience of running, and being lost in the forest is to how I feel right now in my life. I stopped dead in my tracks, startled by my own discovery. I looked around me completely lost in the middle of the woods with at least five different paths to choose from but not knowing at all which path to take.
Over the last few years, my life has began to really change as my children are growing up and my role as a mother is shifting. I haven’t had a similar change in well over 14 years when I decided to leave my job in corporate sales behind and start a family. Being a full-time, stay at home mom with two little kids at the time was exhausting work but in my opinion the most rewarding job I’ve ever done. Once the kids were out of diapers and in school, my life opened up a bit more and almost eight years ago I began writing this blog. With the blog, an entire new path appeared with amazing opportunities and friendships. I have loved writing my blog and will continue to do so until I no longer have anything to say (which will be never!).
However, now my life is changing once again. My children are both in middle school and I had to say goodbye to their wonderful elementary school where I have been a big part of the community for over eight years. I volunteered there a ton and that tight knit community of parents, teachers, staff and children was a huge part of my life. I never realized the sadness I’d feel with leaving that community all behind and the emptiness of that leaving that strong connection. It actually rather caught me by surprise as I didn’t realize how incredibly important community is to me. Finally it dawned on me that I was turning the page on my old life and a new chapter of life was ahead.
“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?” – Soledad O’Brien
For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about our paths in life and how they present us with an enormous opportunity for growth and change. While following a new path can be very exciting, it also can be quite scary and takes a lot of courage and faith in yourself. Despite my truly adventurous spirit, I tend to be less adventurous and open to change when I’m here at home in Minneapolis. To be quite honest, change terrifies me and usually fills me with fear and anxiety.
For someone who has climbed Kilimanjaro with a bunch of strangers, flew to India for four days to do a social good project, and has spent a week living with a family who spoke no English in Guatemala and Honduras, I often surprise and even shock myself by my inability to take chances and accept change from my daily life at home. Honestly it bewilders me but it is something I am working hard at accepting. Although it is not always easy to pick a new path to follow, it is through trial and error as well as taking chances that we grow. Taking that first step into an unknown path will be hard and take a lot of strength, courage and openness to try out something new. There will be mistakes along the way, I may fail but in the end it will be worth it.
Now it is trying to figure out which path in the forest to take. Which one should I try first?
Thank you so much Tina for inspiring me to join in on the Lens-Artists Challenge: Path.
P.S. In case you are wondering, I finally caught up to my son a half an hour later. He was waiting for me with a big, proud smile at the parking lot and wondering where I’d been.