It always seems as if everyone follows the same path. Large, even stones lay before them in a uniform line and they follow willingly. Each one the perfect size, the perfect fit, the perfect life. Each step they take they are content in the peace those gray stones bring. Graduate High School, go to college, graduate college, fall in love, get married, have children…on and on and on each one like the last. Only the names, faces, and places change. But what if someone wasn’t looking for peace. What if they wanted something more unique, more colorful? Was there a path of stones for them?
If someone were to step off that cobbled path and sink their feet into the warm earth, what would await them? Would the grass tickle their toes, the earth greet them with a welcoming embrace? Or would the world rebel and the trees turn brittle, the ground cold, and a never-ending winter hold fast? Would it be worth it? Was that risk worth the freedom the unknown granted them?
These questions tormented me with each clap of sound my foot made when it hit cobblestone. I feared what would be waiting for me if I just took a side step. What would others think? Would they even notice, or would the monotony drown out everything else?
It came down to one question, something I heard an old man ask his son. His weathered feet stood just on the edge of the path as he walked parallel to it, his hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “Is it worth it, to you, to live this life never knowing if you could live another way?”
He must have thought so, as the young man spoke no words, only continued down the pre-laid path in silence. The old man did not seem angry, or even disappointed, just gave a sigh and turned away. His frame slowly disappeared into the distance, as I contemplated his question.
“Was it worth it?”
I am proud to say I stepped off that path. I realized it wasn’t for me and there was another journey I was ready to take. This new path wasn’t always clear like those stones, but it was my own and it brought to me a new beauty, a new understanding of what it meant to live, to be alive. At times, I tripped over a stray root, slid down a hill, or was pelted with freezing rain and hail. In those times, I felt as if I couldn’t go on, even dared to regret my rebellion. It was hard to face it alone, but in my perseverance, I found a new strength.
I faced those rainstorms and was greeted with the rainbow at the end. Those others, who walked the ‘normal’ path, they didn’t see it. So lost were they in the next step, their eyes turned down to match each next step, they didn’t see what other beauty the world had to offer. They didn’t take a moment to look up to the sky and allow the beautiful colors to embrace them, as I had.
I felt sorry for them, pitied them at times. They were missing so much for the sake of being like everyone else. With looks of wonder they viewed new things but never had the thought to step away even if for a moment. But not all can have the courage to do that.
There is nothing wrong with following the set path, but it isn’t for everyone. That is what my experience taught me. But what I lost in knowing my next step, I gained in so much greater purpose. In the dark forest with the predators closing in, their critical eyes watching, it can be hard to keep your mind calm. It is times like that when you find that little piece inside of you that gives you strength.
I discovered that immeasurable joy when you find another like you, enjoying the summer sun, drinking from the stream, content to just be there in the moment. I welcomed those strangers and greeted them as old friends. For those who take a leap of faith and dare to be different, to be who they were meant to be, they were not fools to me, but family.
*Note from Shanna:
Hello, everyone! I hope you have enjoyed this little short story. It is the first of many I am working on inspired by the imagery and meaning behind the Tarot deck. Writing these pieces has been so much fun and fulfilling, I wanted to share one of them with you. This one is the first I wrote, and the first card in the Major Arcana. Thank you for your support, for reading, and I hope you enjoy what is to come!