As humans, we are programmed to store our new thoughts and actions into different compartments. We change these compartments through new experiences – a sort of eureka moment for the brain. We repeat our existing information, consciously or not, over and over, strengthening the myelin that speeds up and solidifies our memories. We draw from these memories and figure out what to do next, which way to flow in a difficult situation.
But can these old experiences, old memories, old paths, really be purely beneficial? Or do they act as a crutch when times get tough, and when situations become scary?
We go back to what we draw comfort from – the safety of sameness. We avoid discomfort by avoiding change. Yet in the back of our mind, who hasn’t wanted to just start over – a la Tabula Rasa?. We find this cathartic release when we purge our unnecessary, and cluttering items, even when we swipe away that last email in our inbox. Suddenly, this cleanse becomes an opportunity to start over. The what ifs come to life. The different paths begin to appear, and all we want to do is explore them.
But at the end of the day, do we follow this tempting newness? Or do we fall back to the same routine? Do we clear a million different new paths just to crawl back to the start of our old one? And when we get back to the start of our old path, do we follow it back to the point that made us so eager to cleanse it all in the first place? We feel bound to this same path because so far it has “worked” for us. Maybe we can take one of those other paths next time, right?
But maybe we should stop and just think. Just about the why. Why are we moving backward? Why are we starting over? Are we really following our own path, or did someone create this path for us to follow? To keep us bound to a single, controllable road that stops us from overthinking? Maybe we need to create a new path. Take our metaphorical plow and start a new fork in the road. There is no innovation following someone else’s trail – they’ve already reached the end of it. But think of all of the new paths that you could create if you just took that plow and turned left, or turned right in the road.
Create your own road. Create a road others can take as well, until they create their own fork too. The perfect mentor does not teach you how to walk his path – he is the ox that helps you plow a new one.
And does it not feel fulfilling to guide another? Do we not feel happiness when our disciple, or our student, or our child succeeds?
We leave a legacy – a mark on the world that will pass through generations.
What of the size of this path? Do we not thrive to create the biggest path possible? To leave the largest legacy? Do we not delight when we see more and more people follow in our footsteps?
Which path are you traveling on right now? Do you get to the end only to realize you were going in a circle? Or do you take the plow and create a new path- for yourself, and for your legacy?