Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The More Difficult Path

It was the quintessential Robert Frost moment. The fork in the road labeled two paths and the decision lay before us like an open hand. There wasn't danger in one or the other, and neither had terrible consequences, but the first footstep would hold the answer.

                                             <---- More Difficult                Easy ----->

I had been battling sickness all week so the sensible answer was obviously the "easy" path, but with one look at each other my brother and I knew what we had chosen. We took our steps past the "more difficult" sign with confidence and moved toward the goal of the lakes promised above.

The signs weren't lying with their descriptions of ease and difficulty. The path we chose included steep runs of slippery rocks that had to be climbed in the fashion of a monkey, on all fours or clinging to the surrounding terrain. After days of barely eating, the upward rocky climb wore on me quickly. I never doubted that we had made the right choice but I started to wonder if the effort was really worth it. Then we turned the corner.

We were about halfway up the climb when we walked to the edge of the cliff and realized what lay before us. Over the steep rock race there was the most magnificent waterfall pouring down. As the rain fell and our legs ached we stood in wonder at this most unexpected surprise. The more difficult path had contained a secret. With more risk came more reward. The beauty lay amidst the challenge and the waterfall applauded us as if to say, "good choice! Now wasn't it worth it?" 

Whether intentionally or not it seems that I have often taken the "more difficult" path since college. Moving across the country for school, traveling on my own, raising support to work on a reservation. . . all held their fair share of challenges. They weren't choices made simply for the sake of conquering the difficult, they were just forks in the road where a step forward had to be made. And always without much knowledge of what lay ahead, or knowing if I had the strength to go on, I took the steps determinedly in one direction and went wherever the path led me.

Without doubt the "more difficult" certainly has been, and at points in my life I've wondered why I didn't just take the easy way instead. Either path would have gotten me to where I am now, but I have always found that the adventure and the challenge brings out something else as well.  Without fail if I willed myself to move forward the beauty would eventually peak out of the hardships to whisper happily, "Good choice! Now wasn't this worth it?" The beauty that was only on the difficult path has defined my years- the relationships, the jobs, the road trips and the celebrations. All of it made me who I am today, and it made the choices so very much worth the climb.

Surely life will continue to fork, and as I stood in the rain on that day looking at the falls I decided one thing- I will always step away from the easy path in search of the beauty only difficult paths can provide.

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