He travelled the path alone, and so he had no one to blame but himself for the way things eventually turned out. The path was well-worn, indicating that many travelled this way. As it was now, though, there was not another person in sight. The sun was high in the sky, no clouds to obscure its bright face. The birds chirped cheerfully to one another.
He was enjoying his walk and the things he experienced along the way. The last village was particularly enjoyable, though the old woman’s warning left him feeling slightly disturbed and advice very confused (“Make sure to take the left fork. The other is dangerous. But if you find yourself in trouble, simply stop and turn around”). It wasn’t something he particularly wanted to reflect on, and so he made a deliberate effort to push the memory further to the back of his mind.
His journey continued into the late morning. The walk was not particularly difficult, the path following a relatively straight course and only slight rises and falls in the geography.
Eventually, the path topped a particularly tall rise, and he looked down the hill to see a dark wood ahead. It had a forbidding look about it. The path he was on went straight into those thick trees. However, he noticed that just before the treeline, another path split off that seemed to follow the edge of the wood.
He thought, “Well, I can just follow this secondary path around the wood and rejoin the main path on the other side.” And so he did, forgetting the warning he was given earlier in the day.
He walked along this new path for some time with no resistance. He thought to himself how much better this path was, how much easier, than if he had followed that other path into those dark woods. Surely, that journey would have been much more difficult.
As he was thinking to himself, he suddenly slipped and found himself sliding quickly down a hill that the path had dropped over. He was sliding toward a particularly nasty looking patch of brambles. He panicked and tried to claw his way back up the hill, but the struggle only accelerated his descent, and soon he found himself caught in the clutches of the brambles. The barbs cut into his skin, and every effort he made to get away only entangled him further. He had forgotten the advice to stop struggling. He didn’t know that even now, that advice would serve him well.
But then, he did remember. Only he remembered the woman and not her words. He cursed her, believing she had tricked him to go this way, when the fault only lay on himself. He had tried to find an easier way to his destination, and now his journey had been hopelessly delayed. He wondered if he would ever be able to get out of this mess…..
It is interesting to watch people I know created problems and crises for themselves by the sheer power of their own poor decisions. And I know that these people should know better because I know that they have been advised by their close friends and family that their actions are going to prove to be ultimately self-destructive. Yet, they do not listen, choosing instead to take their own path, to do their own thing, because it is easier or because they would rather have immediate satisfaction rather than long-term fulfillment. And it scares me, too, because I see bits of myself in these people, the poor decisions that I myself make, and the consequences of those decisions can be very hard to live with. I can only pray that I make good decisions and that I can be humble enough to heed advice and turn from my bad decisions when I make them.