Last week I was in a bit of a funk and was desperate to get out of it. I decided to check out a trail I have never been to before. I knew next to nothing about it, other than it was considered a “Hidden Gem of Dane County” and that dogs were allowed, so there was a pretty good possibility I could make some pup friends. I grabbed a water bottle, some snacks, and set off for an unknown adventure. I was hoping the fresh air and open trails would give me a chance to clear my head and get some perspective.
I set off on the trailhead without much of an idea of what to expect. There was no map. I had no idea if it would be an easy trail or a difficult trail. Not a clue if it would be a long or a short hike. I didn’t know how many people I would encounter along the way. But off I went, optimistic about what I might find.
About an hour into the hike, I came across a literal fork in the road. It reminded me of that one time in the required speech class in high school that I had to memorize Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” If I could clear out the space that apparently still holds in my brain, I probably wouldn’t have a note on my counter that says, “I KNOW YOU’RE AN ADULT BUT DON’T FORGET YOUR LUNCH!”
Anyways, at this fork, there was a laminated map of the trail. Excellent! Except it had no indication of where I was. None. Nada. Zero. There was no landmark to point me in the right direction. No way of knowing how far I had come or how far I had left to go. There was no indication of what was ahead. In the corner, someone had scribbled “YOU ARE HERE” with absolutely no indication as to where here was. Apparently someone before me had the same feelings on the usefulness of this map, and I appreciated their sense of humor.
I chose a path and continued on. I couldn’t help but think about how that map was exactly how I feel about life. You are here. Wherever here might be. Try as we might, we don’t know what it looks like in the grand scheme of things. No one has a perfectly drawn out, detailed map for life. Not a single one of us knows how long our own path might be. We don’t know what kind of obstacles might be ahead of us. When we are climbing uphill, we don’t know if the hill will continue around the bend. No one knows what kind of view we might have. There is no telling whose path will cross with our own, or when they might veer apart (or cross again). There might be times where we fall and find it really hard to get up and continue onward. We might feel inadequate or unprepared for what the path brings us. Sometimes we feel like we should be in a different place on the trail after all of the work we’ve put in so far, and feel disappointed that we haven’t made more progress. WE will compare ourselves to the people traveling along similar paths. There will be time where we question if we chose the correct path. There may even be times where we feel like we’ve lost the trail entirely.
There will also be times where the view is so spectacular that it takes our breath away. There will be times where we look back and realize how far we have come from where we started. There will be times where the path ahead is clear and obvious. There will be times where it all makes sense. We will realize how important the people who have chosen to walk along beside you are. You are making the journey, and that in itself is quite the accomplishment. In the end, we’ll be able to look back and see just how proud of our journey we should be. We will be able to look back and see how it was all connected.
In the meantime, you are here. And here is a pretty spectacular place to be.