In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks – John Muir
There will be many points in our lives where we come to a crossroads. Some of these times are simple. Do we go out for dinner, or stay in and order a pizza? Do we take a trip north to see the mountains, or head south to somewhere tropical. Then there will come the times, not the moments, but the stages, of our most important crossroads. Most of these times arise after what we believe is the end of a chapter in our lives, and we’re faced with the difficult decision of where to go next.
They’ve said there’s a hard road and an easy one. They’ve told us to take the road less traveled. We’ve also been told that we should only move forward, and never backwards. But what about the times where all you see is nothingness. No road left in sight, just a dead end with no outlet.
There is still a way to keep going. Don’t move forward.
Turn around and take that very same road you came from, and travel back down your original path. We associate “go” with moving forward, but you don’t necessarily have to move forward in order to keep going.
Life isn’t always about starting over, or finding a new path while leaving everything behind to become something completely new. Sometimes you have to go back down the road you once came, and clean up the litter on the path along the way, whether it was created by you or not. Clean up your path. Pay more attention to the road signs along the way. The warnings to slow down, or that there are bumps ahead. Be aware of others crossing your path, know when to yield, and when it’s your turn. Find that some parts of the road may be hazardous to travel in certain conditions, while safe at other times. Maybe you’ll pass by a bench that you’ve never noticed, that was there all along, strategically placed to give you some time to rest when you most need it.
You may have to put in work as you go, to repair bridges that decayed over time due to neglect. You might have to avoid potholes and dips in the road where you hurt yourself the first time. You may even come across a staircase, midway back through your original journey, to climb and travel the same path, but from a different vantage point. You could possibly even notice side roads that you hadn’t seen before, because you ignored the option to move any way but forward.
You don’t need a brand new start or a reinvention. Maybe it’s just time to let go of the luggage you were carrying that weighed you down and distracted you the first time, and walk back down the same path you came, a little lighter, with a better ability to focus. Your new journey could lie in revisiting what you were originally determined to leave behind.
This means second chances.
And as you go, never underestimate the power of your choices. The bridge you rebuilt may help someone else find their way during their own journey, as it intertwined with yours. Maybe the luggage you let go of and left behind was picked up by someone else who needed it. We will never fully know all of the impacts that our journey has had on someone else’s.
It is time to dig deeper. Life is a giant, winding forest with beautiful songs and terrifying whispers. It has many stories to tell, and treasures to unearth. There is too much to miss to only travel a path one time. Similar to re-reading a book or re-watching a movie, we find so much that we missed the first time.
So, sometimes moving forward isn’t always the answer. Sometimes we may have to move backwards, up, down, or sideways, and go in whichever direction allows you to still see a path to travel, a way to keep going.
Some of us may get the most out of this life pursuing just one path, with the wonderful opportunity to continuously wander back and forth until we get the most out of it, and find all that we came for. Almost like a brush on a canvas, painting the same line back and forth, while the color gets richer and deeper with each stroke.
So give yourself permission now, and relieve yourself of the burden to move forward. Consider all ways, always.
Natalie Seymour a 28 year old N.Y.S. certified English teacher, has a deep passion for writing. She is currently completing her certifications to become a Deepak Chopra health and well-being coach, and is pursuing an M.S. in Special Education.