Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
A few years ago I was interviewed for a documentary project on life and its winding road of intricacies, when a question came around to choosing one’s life path. The interviewer asked if I had always known my chosen path. My answer came quickly and emphatically: No! My life’s path has been one of evolution; in fact, I am certain that I had no way to define it, or even to label it, as I do not believe it has ever been experienced before. Let me explain:
Some people are just born knowing their life’s mission. Have you ever heard someone say, “I just knew I would be a doctor—it’s what I’ve wanted my whole life.”? Or maybe you have seen the video footage of a two-year-old Tiger Woods on the Mike Douglas show hitting a golf ball (check YouTube)? Without a doubt, some people feel the fire burning inside them from day one, while still others simply figure it out quicker than most. But the majority of us have to search for our life’s calling, like a treasure to be found in a quest of the soul; the search as much a part of the path as the calling itself.
And then some of us must create a path where once there was none, innovators of the most magnificent kind, because that which has been paved before doesn’t really lead to where we wish to go. So it may be several years before you fully comprehend your direction, as I was well into my thirties before I saw the big picture. It is thus important to not get discouraged during those hazy days, when you can’t quite see beyond the fog of youth, but instead simply follow your heart, because this is where the light of your soul shines, to guide you down your inspired path even when your conscious mind is still in the dark.
For those of us pioneering our own pathway, then, it might pay to consider a few things along the way. First, as I’ve already said, your heart is the beacon of your soul—it knows exactly where you are going, so just focus on the things that you love the most. Yes, we all have activities and obligations that we do not necessarily care to do, but must do anyway. However, I am talking about what you wish to prioritize, whether that be music, or sports, or dancing, or watching birds…do it every chance you get. If you find yourself developing an interest in another area, then investigate it—that is your heart speaking to you. In my own life, I find that my interests have progressed every few years, such that the work I do today is an integrated synthesis of all my life’s loves, and I never cease to be amazed at the order of it all.
Next, do not get discouraged because you haven’t figured it out yet. Pressures of these sorts tend to lead people to seek guidance outside themselves, to follow paths not truly of their own hearts, and to give up when the going gets tough, because nobody sticks it out for something they are not really driven by.
Finally, don’t be afraid to innovate. Who says that a love of computers and salsa dancing don’t go together? You never know what you might create. Consider all the great innovations throughout history, and understand how it takes a different kind of thinking to change the world. It certainly wasn’t lost on Hooters to figure out the value of amalgamating interests.
The interviewer wrapped things up by asking what advice I would give kids who are uncertain about what they would love to do in their lives. My answer was simple: Just do what you love. Nurture every one of your interests—give them time, and do them well—believe me, it’ll all come together before you know it. Trust in the process, because the heart never lies. We are all born with an inner inspiration and calling, our life’s path just waiting to express itself uniquely through its carrier. Let your heart shine and it will show you the way. Uncovering your path is a process of evolution for the most part, so enjoy every step along the way. It is your path after all, and nobody is going to love it unless you do.