I got lost in the woods today.
The fact that I’m typing this from the comfort of my office should let you know that this story has a happy ending.
The day got off to a stumbling start. Nothing really bad happened, you understand. It was just not coming together well. I was feeling tired and a bit overwhelmed by the work in front of me. Then I blinked, and it was lunchtime.
So, I decided to go for a walk.
My workplace is embedded in the Forest Park Nature Preserve. We are surrounded by beautiful woods, traversed by twisting trails. So, I put my new earbuds in, started up some music, and headed out.
I started out following a trail that I knew, but when I came to a fork, I decided to take the right-hand path, which I hadn’t walked before. But, really, what could go wrong? As long as I stayed on the path and walked carefully, the trail would bring me back home.
And so I kept walking. And walking. And walking. It was beautiful. The leaves are changing colors and beginning to fall to the ground, and the rain pattered gently on me as I kept moving. I still wasn’t concerned. All I had to do was stay on the path and walk carefully.
And so I kept walking. I climbed a hillside on wooden stairs and walked along a ridge line. The path twisted and turned and grew rough with exposed roots. Some places I had to watch carefully, because the path was almost obscured by leaves and debris, making it hard to determine where the path had gone. And I began to grow a little concerned that, maybe, I was lost.
By this point, it was too late to retrace my steps. Going back wasn’t any better. Really, the best, safest, and most sensible approach was to push ahead. All I had to do was stay on the path and walk carefully, and the trail would bring me back home.
And so I kept walking. But I was smiling and even laughing a bit to myself. Because I understood what was going on, and it pleased me. I embraced the metaphor that was being handed to me and lived in the moment.
I’m back. All is well, though I was gone longer than I had originally planned. And I get it now. In this moment, at least, it’s all so clear.
Stay on the path.
Trust the trail.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.