Wayne Hinshaw column: Following paths

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 11, 2017

Have you ever taken a walk and ended up following a path or paths in some direction where you did not know where you were going? You were just curious and wanted to see where  the path would lead you.

Walking  a path that you are unfamiliar with is somewhat  like “walking the path of your life” and not always knowing where the path might take you. As I write this column about walking a real unknown path, try to read between the lines about your own path in living your life and see if you agree with me, that maybe the logic is the same while walking a path or living your life.

Let’s begin by clearing our minds of the daily clutter of life. With our minds empty and clear we are ready to walk. Let our minds regress to the mind of a child that is open and ready to learn. We are playful and curious, ready to think new thoughts and challenge our creativity. We are the experts of nothing. We are looking for beauty with our eyes, while our minds are calm and at peace.

Our path can be magical and wonderful, full of surprises along the way. We are explorers searching the unfound, the  undiscovered. Maybe we will meet friendly people or maybe we will meet not so friendly people on our path.

Gene Oliver once wrote, “Every path has a purpose.” Every path leads somewhere, but we cannot follow every path, no matter how temping it might look.

We have to be very careful, with each step we take, to avoid tripping and falling as we step on loose rocks in our path or tree roots crossing our way. It is so easy to stumble on our path.

All paths are a course for a special purpose. All paths are a direction of travel. Some are a direction to travel that leads to nowhere. Some have a special purpose, but it is cloudy and unclear. We can get lost on some well traveled paths. If we embark on a well traveled path in the darkness of night, we may become disoriented and confused. Maybe someone will have to come and rescue us from the darkness.

Even in the light of the brightest day, some of our paths will have shady areas where we are blinded for lack of light on the site. Every path has stretches where the shade can only be broken by light. Shadows can be tricky as they jump around on the path as the wind moves the tree branches overhead. Some of the shadows  can be scary shapes fading in and out, making our walk one of concern for our safeness. Sometimes the sunshine or light of day will attack the shadows and chase the darkness away. It seems like the shadows and the light play tag chasing each other in and out of our path.

In walking paths, you never know what is around the next turn that might surprise you. You never know when the path will split and go in two directions. How will I know which path to take? Both paths must be good paths for someone has needed to walk both paths as some time in finding their way.

We walk along walls or wooden fences that border paths. These obstacles help guide us and line the way of our path. Do they keep us safe from straying off the path, or do they prohibit us from new adventures that could challenge our creativity?

Gates on our path stop our adventure moving forward.  Someone had moved through the gate and continued onward. The gate for us must mean: do not enter. We are not welcome on that path. Curiosity makes us want to try to open the gate and see what is hiding down that path. Maybe not today.

Our paths are never straight paths. There are always zigs and zags.

We encounter steps on our path. Steps to where? Someone left their red sandals on the steps in our path.  Why are there sandals? Did someone forget them? Did someone stray off the steps, leaving us a clue to rescue them?

Walking our path is like hunting for some  game animal not knowing where the prey might be hiding.  Walking our path can supply us with new knowledge and wisdom about our surroundings. Don’t over-think what we see on our path, but be open to new things to learn. Remember, we started with open minds ready to experience whatever our path offered. We started with the minds of children where everything was possible, everything was new, where no fences or gates would block our journey.

We followed our path discovering our interests, seeking and seeing  beauty, and not worrying about what naysayers might say about us.