“If you see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path.
Your own path you make with every step you take.
That’s why it’s your path.” — Joseph Campbell
“Are you sure you’re walking down that path again?” The farmer said. You’re stopped dead in your tracks in the corn field. As tired as you are you respond “please get out of the way sir, I gotta get to work“. Mindlessly you’re continuing your walk through the familiar path on your way to a familiar place you call work, your house or another mediocre destination.
“Hey!” the farmer continued. “Did you even hear me!?”
“My gosh” you’re thinking to yourself “what’s wrong with this guy?“. The farmer looks at you, gently smiled and goes “Ever stopped to ask yourself why you’re seeing this path so clearly?” He continues “you’ve been walking down this path forever” as he reaches out his hand to give you his old machete. “Use it wisely” he says, to then disappear into the mysterious wild grasslands.
Imagine the field as your life. As you’re headed out into the field for the first time you’re leaving a small trail behind. Every time you walk down that path, that same path becomes more established and walkable. Every walk down this path will become easier and will cost you less energy. The exact same is true for the neuroconnections in your brain. Every same thought you have and every same choice you make wires your brain to create a more established pathway to think, to act and to feel the same, familiar way. You’ll only have to “walk” this trail often enough to make this pathway more hardwired, so it will be easier to fire while wasting less energy. In today’s world we call these hardwired pathways — please, don’t get too blown away — habits.
Too often these pathways aren’t guiding us towards the destination we’d love to imagine. This begs the question, why do we choose to walk down this path over and over again? The main reason is because we’re habitual creatures, wired for survival. We’re naturally wired for safety and not to thrive. Look at the trail you’re leaving behind in the field. In other words: have a look at your life. This path is crystal clear because you’ve walked it times and times before. So, most likely you’ll also be able to predict the destination it will take you towards. In other words: it feels familiar and safe. And because it’s safe you’ll continue to walk this path like a river running its water through the same channel. The moral of the story can’t be much more simplistic — the same choices you make will give you the same results, guiding you to the same destination.
I’m hoping you aren’t yet too blown away by the simplicity, because there’s more.
Habitual thoughts lead to habitual feelings (and vice versa), leading to habitual actions. A chain of actions create your behaviour, which becomes your personality. Your personality — personal reality — will manifest into your reality. What you experience confirms your thoughts and feelings: “see, I was right all along, I already predicted it“. So you’ll continue to see what you saw and continue to do what you did. Welcome to the loop of the beaten track.
This was a small metaphorical story about a mystical farmer and an arguable fool who dropped his vision for the ease of comfort, the illusion of safety and the fear of the unknown. I’m sure we’ve all stood there with a machete at hand, not knowing what to do with it. And, unfortunately, too many drop the weight of the machete at some point. But it’s still there. You know where to find it (next to your familiar path).
The story is an introduction to what my work is about. No, not about tall grass. I was thinking more about machetes, or something. We’re always given options. At the very base the options are which thoughts, feelings and attitude we choose to adopt. If you’re a free human (which you most likely are) you’ll also have the option to act, move, connect and behave in different ways.
If this has stretched your mind a bit, I’d like to offer you two options:
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