Photo by John Thomas on Unsplash
Does This Path Have Heart?
On choices, goals, and how to enjoy everything along the way
Apr 22nd, 2020 | 2 min read

We face countless choices every day. We could have coffee when we wake up, or we could choose green tea instead. We could also choose to skip caffeine entirely. We could have a healthy breakfast or eat a decadent donut. The paths ahead of us are infinite.

But how often do we acknowledge each day as a path? How often do we allow ourselves to walk our choices the way walk a rustic and beautiful forest path--not knowing where it will lead, but excited to see where our choices take us?

Furthermore, how often do we ask questions about that path? Is it worth taking? Do we see beauty on it now--where we are? Do we feel something on it? Do we expect that if we don't feel something now, we will?

In his book The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Carlos Castaneda wrote:

“Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately..... Does this path have a heart?

All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path."

So, does your path have heart? Is your journey on said path guided by a hope that things will be enjoyable someday, or by your determination to find what can be enjoyed here and now? Make it the latter. There are things to feel, drink in, and enjoy right now--on this path.

A destination does not make a path. A destination is a bonus--if it even exists at all. As Castaneda says, each path leads to nowhere. I take that to mean that to live is to be walking a path. So in that sense, only death can be counted as a destination. Death is the only place where you can arrive. And we'll all get there in due time.

If we understand that--if we understand that our destination is basically the same, and that it is guaranteed--why continue to overlook what is around us on the path? Once we understand that the destination is guaranteed, and that the destination is oblivion, the unknown, we are free to open up to these moments of walking the path of everyday life.

This article was written by Mike Sturm.
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