“Protect the plants, stay on the path” a Reno trail sign reads. Viewed literally, the sign asks that hikers not trample the sensitive plants growing beside the trail. Looked at symbolically, it offers quality advice for life. The “path” is your path in life. It is the intended journey that leads to your destiny. The plants symbolize life, the life inside you, the life and potential that gets trampled when you stray from your true calling.
Some people don’t believe that there is an intended destination, or destiny, for their life. They believe they can find success and fulfillment in whatever path they choose if they just try hard enough. Rest assured, the rates of depression, anxiety, and addictive disorders would be a fraction of what they are if there was any truth to this “you’re the captain of your own destiny” mentality. It’s hard enough to fulfill your destiny when you’re on the right path, so trying to reach a destination that is not your path is a recipe for disaster.
Believing that you can choose any path and make it your destiny is, ironically, one of the quickest ways to miss your path and trample your inner life. But let’s say you are lucky enough, or conscious enough, to be following the calling that lies deep within you. You may still be tempted off that path. You will be challenged and face frustration. You will have your trials and tribulations. And sometimes these challenges may be necessary parts of your journey, for reaching your destiny wouldn’t mean much if you didn’t have to sacrifice and struggle for it. And you won’t become a more conscious human being if you don’t have to discern the growth-producing from the redirecting obstacles in your life. In other words, some obstacles are meant to be scaled while others are encountered because you’re on the wrong path.
Perhaps one of the most common distractors from your path is the pressure to live by the more superficial goals and values of society. Although society benefits from individuals who strive to discover and embody their true calling, it does not typically encourage this. And even when it seems to, such as in an “achieve your goals” or “be all you can be” type of advertisement, it is basically trying to sell you the shoes, clothes, or career it wants you and a million other people to pursue. Do companies, institutions, churches, the government, or even most of your friends and family want you to become the unique and conscious individual you were created to be? Does society really want people to think for themselves?
Animals that travel in herds are easier to round up. People that think like sheep are more easily led this way and that. Family and friends following a collective value system don’t want your life to be a reminder to them of the life they are not living. Discovering and staying true to your path is not easy, but it may be the only way to keep the plant of your soul alive.