Each year my brother and I go for a hike on the Appalachian Trail. It is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s an awe-inspiring thing. The trail is only a few feet wide but it is over two thousand miles long. The path is usually easy enough to follow because lots of people hike it each year. This past spring we hiked our normal section in reverse. Due to an overflowing stream, we ended up on the wrong trail for a while. Eventually we were able to get back to the AT but first we had to get our bearings and hiked some new ground with new sites. Hiking the AT is a great experience that I’ve enjoyed a lot. It’s not the only path and it’s not the path for everyone.
While hiking the AT is great, it is a horrible path to be on if you’re trying to get to Ohio. As I prepare for another year in the classroom, I wonder how many of our paths are broken. We have constructed so many procedures, social norms and belief systems. It seems as though many of them are broken or breaking. The 20th Century American Human had a pretty clear cut set of guidelines for his or her “success”. Money, fame, power, and possessions were indicators of “success”. Perhaps they still are but I don’t know that the old paths still lead to those desired ends. The fact that we have been going down these paths for generations will be little consolation to the young people who end up lost on “the right path”.
Perhaps what we need now is a compass and a machete rather than a path. The future is an uncertain thing. Following the well-worn path may still get you to its historical end but it may help more to question the path. Is this the right path for you? At bare minimum the question and the decision to follow or not puts your life into your own hands. In the end that’s where it should be anyway. If you follow in everyone else’s footsteps and don’t like where you end up, then you made the mistake, not the path.
Find your True North and follow it this week.