It was a beautiful day today, so I decided to take Finny for a hike in the woods. Since I've been back on the mainland I've challenged myself to find as many new hiking places as possible and try a new one each time I go out. Today I found a beautiful lake out near Barberton. I was anxious to start my hike and I'm always drawn to the water, so I attempted to hike up a trail path right beside the lake. The path came to an ending and where it seemed that it could lead up into the woods was a clear X marked by two very thorny brier branches. I took this as a sign that I wasn't meant to head down that trail and I turned around, still determined to hike up that side of the lake. I walked up through the parking lot and found a wide trail going in the same direction but up further from where I was. So, I happily started trod-ding down that path, excited that I found another way that seemed to be going in the same direction I was trying to head earlier. We weren't even 50 feet up the path when we ran into a super muddy spot with ankle-deep water that spread across the entire trail. This wasn't going to work, so I walked into the woods to the side of the path, trying to find a way around the mud. As I pushed my way through fallen trees and rotted branches I found myself getting further and further into the brush. More briers crossed my path, this time thicker and sharper than the original ones, but I was determined to get through. I picked up Finny to protect him as best I could and pushed my way into the brush getting poked and jagged the entire time. We finally got out and to the other side of the path. But we weren't walking much more than a minute when five horses started coming up the other side of the path. I scooped up Finny to keep him from being trampled under foot or spooking the horses. Once they passed we were back at it again, this time coming up quickly on another huge muddy path and a steep rocky hill to climb. “Brian Stop!” I heard a voice in my mind distinctly call out. “You don't have to keep going down this path. It's sloppy and muddy, filled with horse manure. Why don't you just turn around?” “Because I've already started...”, I heard myself arguing in my mind. This was the way I wanted to go and gosh darn it, I was going to go that way no matter how uncomfortable or difficult it turned out to be.
How often do we find ourselves in this position in our lives? We've started a career path, a relationship, a habit of behavior, and because we've already started down that path we feel that we must stay the course, that somehow if we turn around, try a different way or give it up all together we have failed. The momentum of what we have created vibrationally can keep us moving in a direction that isn’t always beneficial for us. If we are able to catch the early signs, (like those nice big X brier branches that I first saw) we can adjust our course more quickly. Sometimes when we miss those subtle messages Spirit will give us an even bigger sign. A great big muddy slop pit right in the middle of your path. But even then sometimes our stubborn nature refuses to get the message and we still try to beat our way through the briers to get around it. How much mud and manure and big thick thorny briers does it take for us to finally give up and try something new?? So, I finally decided to turn around and started trekking back down the path I had come from. And now I was back to the big muddy water hole. I dragged myself through briers to avoid this soggy pit the first time, but I wasn’t going to do that again. Instead, I picked up Finny and played hopscotch through the mud unsuccessfully trying not to soak my hiking shoes while I attempted to find dry patches. I was back to where I started.
So there I stood, not too worse for wear, some muddy shoes, a couple large thorn scratches, and a bruised ego. I took a deep breath, looked out at the lake and saw a very clear pathway, going around the lake in the opposite direction. Sometimes the path of least resistance isn’t the path you’re on OR EVEN THE SAME DIRECTION! I started down the other path headed in the opposite direction I had just walked away from and this time it was clean and clear with beautiful vistas of the lake and a really cool lookout that went out over the water. Wonderful experiences I would never have enjoyed if I had forced myself to continue down the original path, just because that was the direction I was going. Sometimes it’s not easy to turn around and go back, sometimes you have to dodge manure piles and hop around muddy pit holes to find a new way. But if you just trust your instincts and tap into that spiritual knowing you’ll be guided in the right direction. It would be easy for me to say I made a mistake going down the original path. If I had just listened to my instincts and followed the early warning signs I would have found the other path much more quickly and with greater ease. And maybe that’s true, but then I wouldn’t have had this great story to tell, this wonderful lesson to write about. A deeper understanding that will help me, not only on future hiking endeavors, but also a life lesson for my own spiritual journey. And a story to tell you, my friends, to help you understand and ease your path as well. Truly no path is ever the wrong path. It took me TURNING AROUND AND GOING BACK to even SEE the other pathway that was open to me. I hadn’t noticed it when I first arrived. It took the mistakes, the trial and error, to discover the better way. Every step we take is learning, is understanding, is helping us to develop clarity of mind and figure out what we do want by clarifying what we don’t. And once you figure that out, it’s OK to turn around, to adjust your circumstances, to make another choice, even if it seems like you have to back-track to do it. Spirit is always there waiting to help guide you down your path of least resistance. Wherever that may take you. And wherever it brings you back from.