The paths we follow

I know this is off topic when it comes to hiking, but I feel so strongly about this message that I think it’s important to share it with as many people as I possibly can.

I know that I’ve heard people talk about this epiphanic moment where they realize they have taken the wrong path in life. Knowledge of this fact in my life didn’t just strike me as a sudden intuitive leap of understanding. I’ve known for years where my passion lies, and I’ve known that the job that I had up until recently, was definitely not in line with my passion.

Don’t get me wrong, over the years there were times when I truly enjoyed my job, as well as some great people who I worked with. There were also times when I loathed my job and had a strong disdain for many of the people around me in the workplace. My job put food on the table and cloths on our backs, and I suppose that I should be appreciative of those facts in themselves.   

Spending time in breathtakingly beautiful places causes one to contemplate their own existence, and I’ve certainly had plenty of time spent this summer in places that I have found absolutely gorgeous. These forested trails, sandy bluffs, and crystal clear waters have been medicine for my soul, and have freed me from many of the demons that have tormented me when it comes to some of the unpleasantness in my life and career.  

Everyone has heard people say “pursue your dreams”, but after these past few weeks I’ve realized how truly important these words really are.  My heart has always been with nature, and I now have to wonder how much good I could have done….how much of a difference could I have made, had I followed my heart – done the hard work – found a career doing what I should be doing rather than just chasing a dollar bill.

Much of this writing comes as a direct result of the many people who I have met over the past few weeks. I’ve had the good fortune to meet people from many walks of life and hear a bit of their story, but there are a couple that really stick out in my mind. These are people who have truly followed their dream and are making a difference in not only their lives, but the world. I’ve met National Park Service employees, government contractors, private researchers, and researchers from universities.

It’s been very exciting for me to meet people working in an arena where I would love to be working because of my fervor for nature and the outdoors. And because of my passion it’s easy for me to get a quick read of their passion for the same. I was however caught off guard this week when I met someone for whom their position was “just a job”.  How strange it was to speak to someone who I would have given my right arm to have been in their shoes, but for whom the position was just a job, and really not at all where their heart was.

This person, like so many of us had obviously followed the wrong path in life. How true the old adage is to “Follow your Dreams”, yet how commonplace it is that so many of us have not. Today my hope in life is that it’s not too late. I’m going to be 50 years old next year and I’m going to make every effort to bushwhack my way through life’s forest to the path that I’m supposed to be walking. And more importantly then all of this, I’m going to encourage my children and others to find their path in life and stay on it at all costs.

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