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Sunday morning and, as is our ritual, Norman and I went walking.
While we often return to favorite trails just outside of the Bend area and then enjoy the reward of a croissant with breakfast and a cuppa, from time to time, I will explore a new trail just to see where it leads. Not only does it often challenge our endurance, it broadens our mental map of the trails available to take throughout the year. This past Sunday presented just such an opportunity to finally explore a new trail.
When it comes to living a fulfilling life, what must be embraced is peace with temporary uncertainty. Certainty and curiosity, Andy Puddicombe pointed out in a recent meditation, cannot exist at the same time. For when we are curious, we seek new information, an answer to our question, an expansion of our knowledge base, thereby the definition of pursuing something UNcertain.
As the trail forked off to the left from the known trail, it began to go in the direction opposite of where we needed to return to complete the loop leading us back to our vehicle. However, after having passed this trail entry point multiple times, I had contemplated the liklihood of where it would lead. With only one housing neighborhood in the vast forested area, and the trail being new, my intuition (knowing Bend) was this trail had been built to accommodate the newly built neighborhood in order to have direct access from their homes to the state forest and its many trails.
Pause here for a moment. When it comes to daring to take the ‘trails’ in our lives, when we gather up the courage to charge forward in a new direction, our intuition needs to be well honed in ordered to be a dependable guide. There is a time to trust our intuition and a time to acknowledge, but say ‘not at this time’ or a polite ‘no thank you’ and dismiss it. Our intuition, which is unique to each of us much like our fingerprints, is built with time and experience, but only if each experience has been mined and mined well.
Each time I walked past the new trailhead in previous months, choosing not yet to take it, I gathered information. I noted how many people typically used it based on who I would pass, I noted the neighborhood and other new trails in the area, and I noted the sign posts and realized, this trail didn’t have a name, only directions as to where to go once it met the trail I walked on. Such an observation told me, this was a short trail providing access, not leading to some new destination beyond the neighborhood.
Okay, my intuition for this particular trail had been honed, my curiosity remained piqued, so yesterday morning Norman and I finally set out to find out where it would lead.
Often when we first begin a journey upon which no one known to us has traveled, it feels at times as though we are heading in the wrong direction, doing something we maybe should not. Sensory overload sets in as nearly everything is new, and we unconsciously become emotionally exhausted navigating the path forward. However, take heart knowing you’ve strengthened your intuition prior to traversing onto this unknown trail. Gradually, you will begin to see your confidence rise, as the trail, while twisting and turning, does so in such a way, ever so slightly and then signficantly ushering you to where you imagined it would lead.
Such was the case for the trail we explored. Yes, the trail immediately began going in the exact opposite direction I imagined and hoped it would lead, but through gradual gradient turns, we began to head nearly directly where I instinctively knew it had to lead – back to the neighborhood, the only neighborhood in the area.
When we choose to take a new trail along our journey, try a different approach, we will likely hold in our mind’s eye a desired outcome – what we hope to achieve, who we hope to become, to meet, to experience, etc.. Having a vision indicates we are invested having taken the time to understand how the change may affect our lives and also how we hope it will affect our lives meaning what we are doing is not rash because we also acknowledge we wish for change, and more specifically an improvement on where we are at the current moment in our lives.
But, even though we may have a desired outcome in mind, there will be unexpected moments, and we won’t land precisely where we envisioned, but we will arrive in proximity. That proximity is in direct correlation to the skills we already have and can utilize to inch ever closer to where we want to go as well as what lessons we still have to learn to appreciate most fully what we say we truly want.
I think about this truth of landing where we’re meant to land when I think about my years lived in Bend. Having rented for far longer than I had planned or anticipated when I set out from my previous town, selling my house and taking a new teaching job, upon reflection, it was during those four years of renting that my appreciation strengthened to where it needed to be to not take for granted my ability to finally own a home in a town I cannot imagine leaving. I landed close to my desired location upon setting out on the trail and sticking to it, and then the proximity inspired me to deepen my appreciation and strengthen certain skills to be able to successful reach my true aim.
The new trail Norman and I explored did have many little turns and switchbacks, but gradually, we rose in elevation. While we came upon two different forks near the end, one leading to the neighbhood and one leading to a yet-to-be-built neighborhood, we were indeed brought to where I thought and hoped we might arrive. Along the way introduced to even more new trails and adding an option to my knowledge of the trail system to enjoy especially when the snow falls and the trail is less known as to its whereabouts.
All of this is to say, don’t be fearful of stepping onto a new trail even if you don’t know where it will lead (you probably won’t), but if you are prepared, if your knowledge of the context which surrounds it and your sense of direction (i.e. as your preparedness) is toned, you will be glad you set foot to explore a new path.
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