“What is the use of going right over the old track again? There is an adder in the path which your own feet have worn. You must make tracks into the Unknown.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, The Writings of Henry David Thoreau …
Although many of us prefer the safety of “going over the old tracks,” life is meant to be a daring adventure. After all, we cannot expect to truly learn and grow if we avoid challenging ourselves on new journeys of discovery; if we follow the paths we have already taken, there will be little more to discover. And yet, if we were honest with ourselves, how often have we stopped to look at the paths we were taking in life, and then made a decision to try something new and different–seldom do we turn our sights down new and exciting paths in which our feet have not yet worn before.
For much of my younger years, I seemed to prefer safety to fulfillment, at least in the broader sense. I held a number of jobs that had well-defined expectations and rarely required me to expand my abilities, to challenge myself, or to step outside of my comfort zone. Even many of my past relationships had similar underpinnings–I looked for women who accepted me as I was, who never made me feel uncomfortable or challenged my beliefs and ideas. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but I was partially doing so because I enjoyed the comfort and safety of the known, and these certainly did not help to foster or cultivate a drive to spread my wings and fly in new directions.
Of course, life can be scary, especially when we do not know the future, and by following the paths that our own feet–or the feet of others–have worn helps to take away some of the fear and uncertainty associated with journeying into the unknown. When we do so, however, we must also be aware of everything we are giving up on or losing out on–the chance for new and exciting discovery, to learn and to grow in dynamic and powerful ways, the opportunity to follow our hearts and to perhaps realize our dreams. And we must also understand the lessons that we are teaching our children and younger generations about avoiding the “Unknown,” and that it is not worth taking calculated risks in life.
Go in forth on new and exciting paths with all certainty and determination that Henry speaks of here.
Questions to consider:
What is the most frightening aspect of taking off in unexplored directions?
Why do we tend to stay on the trails that already have been blazed?
What kinds of opportunities do you have to blaze new trails in your life today. They are there–but where?
For further thought:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken