You’re walking up a mountain – that you’ve never even started walking, let alone summited, before. The walking is easy at first, but the mountain only gets steeper. The walking gets harder and harder – but it’s okay, because you get stronger and stronger. It’s enjoyable. But what you didn’t expect was a fork in the path. You thought there was only one way up. There are 2 signs, and both say ‘summit’ on them, yet they point in opposite directions. There are notes scribbled on each sign. There are things drawn in the sand. They’re barely legible, and the information is conflicting. How can there be more than one way to the top, you ask. And what if one does’t lead to the top?
You walk for about an hour in the one direction, with no clue if it’s the right way or not, before turning back and walking for 2 hours in the opposite direction – but again there is no evidence that this way is the right way. You seemed to enjoy the first path, but you’re undecided. You make camp at the crossroads. And for the next few days you walk one way and then the other. Days turn into weeks, turn into months, and they eventually turn into years. Many travellers have come by and do the exact same thing. You give advice on which path you’ve enjoyed, and which may lead to the summit. Comparisons are made and thoughts exchanged. Some travellers you’ve never seen again – they must never have turned back. And then one day, you just decide. You choose the one you’ve walked furtherest along and enjoyed the most. When you get to the point where you’ve never walked, you realised how much you’ve missed an unexplored path, with no option of return.
Again, the path gets steeper and you get stronger. You meet people coming down, with no news of the summit – just more stories, with intentions of going the other way. You’re content with your choice, yet after a few months you find yourself at another fork in the path. It doesn’t seem so major, but it’s certainly a fork.
I’ve realised that in order to enjoy the journey, no matter what paths are chosen, you need to be walking where you haven’t walked before. You need to choose to let go of one thing in order to pursue another to its full potential. I believe the secret to summiting the mountain, is that all paths lead to the summit – it’s just a different experience on each one. Sure, some paths are a lot harder for some people, and to change would be better, but at times you just need to decide and stand by your decision. You can turn around and choose a different way at any time – and your strength in walking will help you climb faster. I think the worst thing to do would be to make camp and just sit, without moving, deliberating which way to go, without ever seeing what each path holds.
I’ve been a jack-of-all-trades in the past, and slowly I’ve been letting go of aspects of that persona and allowing myself to become more specialised in the work I do. My prior journeys have served me well – yet to enjoy the walk to the summit more, I know that focus is the only way. In order to truly say yes to something, you need to say no to many other things.
You can try do everything, but, in doing so, you can’t be good at anything. Both paths lead to the summit – but you need to choose one.