The other day I was contemplating a choice a friend had made and I thought to myself that if this person would make a different choice he would be much better off. Meaning, that if he would just do things my way, his life would be much happier and more productive. Then I had another thought that caught me up short. It said, “How do you know he’d be better off?”
It made me think of a popular hiking path near where I live that follows a small river up to where it emerges from the solid rock of a mountain. It is a tourist destination and the path is wide and well-established. Hundreds hike the trail every year and though their feet travel over the same ground, not one of them experiences the same journey.
Some travel the path quickly, their focus locked on the destination, the journey nothing but a distance that must be traversed in order to attain their goal. Others linger on the path, so caught up in the experience of the present place and moment that it seems they have almost forgotten that they started with a destination in mind. Still others proceed with great bursts of energy only to find that they must stop and rest frequently along the way. Some look down at their feet the whole way, afraid of they will stumble and fall. Others take in every sight around them, unconcerned with the occasional twisted ankle.
The point is, there is no right or wrong way to proceed along the path be it a trail in the mountains or your journey through life. It is an individual adventure. What you find along the way is yours alone to experience and enjoy—or not. Whether you reach your destination is, ultimately, your own choice and your own responsibility. While it may appear that we are traveling the same path, and we may even share the same destination, we are, in fact, on very different journeys.
And that was my lesson. I may encourage you on the way, cheer you on, but it is not up to me to choose, or judge, how you place your feet on the trail.
May you find peace and joy on your journey.