A Misunderstood Path


Back when I was in high school, there lived a man in town who lived by different rules than were common around the neighborhood. He walked a path few could understand, and fewer still could appreciate. For whatever reason, he came to mind a few days ago and hasn’t left me alone since.

This man was an intellectual, had a family, and to those outside his circle seemed a bit distracted, a bit other-worldly. I knew his daughter, went to school with her, and could appreciate how she might feel as the quiet, studious person she was. From his example, I learned to observe the out-of-ordinary things around me.

In his off time, he was an explorer, traveling the world in search of rare native orchids. His travels took him everywhere he thought he could find his Holy Grail of flora. His daughter, my classmate, had tickets to front row seats for his adventures, his knowledge. What a lucky girl she was.

I often wonder how many of the average people within our small town appreciated the contribution to botany and horticulture this dedicated explorer made during his lifetime. I wonder, too, if he ever understood how magnificent his obsession with orchids really was in that time of the Cold War. Did he know of those others who yearned for their own misunderstood paths?

There is for each person a moment, I believe, when opportunity and passion collide. The passion, either latent and barely noticed or rampant and excited, opens the door to this path of opportunity. A split second of decision/indecision determines an outcome that can produce magnificence or heartbreak in the person’s future.

How can one decide to set foot on such a path, certain of, at the very least, cynicism and mockery? We’ve become jaded as a society, I think. We look at the calmer, softer-seeming side of things as weakness or lack of ambition when the opposite is true.

How much easier it is to follow the crowd than to stand alone for what you believe is most important, true, or of value. When you have no visible support structure, what, then, advances your sense of purpose, passion, and relevance? What comprises this invisible support structure?

I’ve learned in the past few years, as I traveled this path of words and writing that we sometimes step onto our misunderstood paths without knowing it at the time. Our lives chug along looking much like any normal life, which, if viewed laterally, would show us that we’re merely in training for what we’re supposed to be doing. All of those experiences we think of as extraordinarily important take on their true significance as foundation stones for our podium on that misunderstood path of which we aren’t yet aware.

We become our own support structure. We take those foundation stones of experience and belief, of passion and aspiration, to build our viewing platforms, from which we can relate our own understanding of life and what it means. Each of us, when we arrive, can look around and see all of those who’ve taken their final stand on this world.

The method of expression isn’t as critical as the expression itself, for it is with this outpouring of personal understanding that we build our history. Events happen, speculation and reason ensue, and time wears off the corners to allow easier reflection. The trick in walking a personal road is in knowing that each person must own the history she/he creates along that path, regardless of what others create along theirs.

Living the life of an explorer in the physical world is easier than exploring one’s own mind and heart. Standing alone on the podium with objective expertise is far more comfortable than standing in solitude as the subjective expert of one’s on passion and desire. The only way to remove the obstacles to our personal paths is accepting the fact that we know our own hearts better than anyone else and that we deserve to explore our misunderstood paths.

For more on personal journeys and the effort we put into them, see http://meenarose.com/2012/06/11/inspiring-mondays-finding-your-calling/

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