The Path Forward

You are walking through the forest. The trees are thick, and the path is hard to see. Thankfully, you have a map to guide your way.

You reach a divide in the forest, with one path going one way, and a second path going another. You look down at your map – and realize that you have no idea where you are.

An owl spots you from a tree high above. “Where are you heading, friend?”

“I’m trying to reach the other side of the forest.” you reply.

“Do you know the way?” asks the owl.

“Well, I have this map…” you begin to say.

“Oh, that won’t help you at all!” the owl says, looking at your map.

“Why not?”

“Because what got you here won’t get you where you need to go.”

It can be painful to realize that the map you had to guide you through the forest won’t help you anymore.

Maybe the forest has changed, and you need a new map for the new forest.

Maybe the person who gave you the map was using it in the past, when the forest was different. Or maybe the forest was always like this – the map was wrong in the past, and it’s wrong now. Maybe you had a map that was almost right, but you became confused by the terrain, and made the wrong additions to the map.

Or maybe the people telling you about the path ahead lied to you. Maybe they’re lying to themselves.

Whatever reason the map is wrong, it’s wrong. And if you want to get where you need to go, you need a new map.

That can mean different things. Maybe there’s some obstacle that you’ve never believed in, that you’ve refused to put on your map – but if it’s part of the forest, you’re going to need it on the map.

Maybe the trail you were told to walk won’t get you out of the forest, and you need a new trail.

Or an old trail that everyone else has forgotten.

Maybe you need different equipment. A better backpack, to carry everything. A different walking stick, for the difficult terrain. Or even a flashlight – you thought you’d make it through the forest during the day, only to realize that night is falling.

And you’ll need your own light if you’re going to make it.

Maybe you need to leave a few things behind – otherwise you’ll be slowed down. The fun puzzle you brought with you isn’t going to help you. The interesting rocks you’ve been collecting are only going to weigh you down.

You can’t get attached to those things. They won’t help you get where you need to go.

The path ahead is difficult and dangerous, far more dangerous than you were prepared for. There are many places you can lose your step… and many predators watching from the trees.

You can’t stay in one place. You can’t go back. And you can’t use your old map.

Time to make a new map – and find a new path forward.