Forging Ahead, Down A New Path (Or Why Following Your Dreams Is So Hard)

“It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track of ourselves… The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!”

– Henry David Thoreau

What a scourge on our life is our old self, right?

We may shed an old self that does not serve us any longer (knowing that by shedding this old self, achieving our dreams is more easily achieved). But even so, for some time, that old self will haunt us with its ominous echo… until we are finally wise enough to bury this past self.

But even after our old self is buried, and its ghost is finally banished from our minds, we may find that this old self has left us one last monstrous memento.

What is that memento? It is the old, beaten path our old self had us traveling on when it still had power over our lives. This old, beaten path is the only path we have known; and our new self can’t help but recognize this painful truth.

This “path” is quite literally a physical path in our minds—a path that is part of a complex network of mental pathways that have been created by us (and others) ever since we were children.

Cultural norms, societal rules, family roles, a sense of our limits and what is possible for us—all of these are “the footprints” that have solidified our old, beaten, worn-down mind pathways. And for those of us bent on achieving our dreams, the monumental task of overcoming these old pathways is a considerable obstacle–it is a harrowing feat–it is a near-impossible endeavor.

Why?

Because these old, beaten pathways are not just any ol’ pathways. These are the pathways established by our old self—a self who once held these pathways sacred. These are the pathways established by our parents (who may still hold these pathways sacred). These are the pathways established by our ancestors—ancestors who created these pathways (and who were the first to imbue them with a certain sacredness).

Our old, beaten pathways are not just any pathways, they are the pathways of humanity, and they are as ancient as the earth itself.

Forging Ahead, Down A New Path

Ironically, however terrible we think they are, our old pathways are the only pathways that can ever lead us to our new pathways.

At the end of the old pathway lies the intersection between where we have been and where we need to be going. We cannot know where we need to be going if we do not know where we have been. That is why, it is here (at the end of the old pathway and at the beginning of the new one) where you and I continue the journey of following our dreams.

And it’s just our luck: because old beaten paths are notoriously hard to leave, and new pathways are just as notoriously hard to create.

The creation of a new pathway is similar to the creation of a new river.

When the first ice on the first mountain melted, the first river forged its new path down the side of that mountain. This was fairly easy to do at the time, as there were no old, beaten pathways to limit the river’s first voyage down the mountain. But ever since then, at the beginning of every new spring, when the ice on that same mountain melts, the river is less likely to forge a new path. Instead, the river is far more likely to follow its old path—the old path it first created thousands of years ago.

Gravity ensures that this will always be the case.

Now and forever, if the river ever wishes to pursue a brand new path, it must do so with incredible effort and persistence. The river must exert great force in order to convince gravity that it should be allowed to veer off into a brand new direction. But if the river doesn’t push hard enough, it will simply slide back into its old path—the old path it has taken for centuries.

You see, gravity always works in favor of old pathways.

If the river doesn’t constantly push for the creation of a new pathway, then gravity will keep forcing the river to repeat its old, battered history.

Why Following Your Dreams Is So Hard

As it is with rivers, so it is with your life.

It is very difficult to work against the old pathways that the old you first created, long ago.

This why one must exert a considerable amount of effort in order to forge ahead, down a new path.

You must push—push—push.

You must push and keep pushing because the old, beaten pathways you’re used to are not just your pathways: they are your parents’ pathways. They are your ancestors’ pathways. They are humanity’s pathways.

This is why there is always a long slog toward your dreams. This explains the tediousness. The difficulty. The length of time it takes.

This is why following your dreams is so hard: it is because you are forging ahead, down a new path.

If your journey toward fulfilling your dreams is easy, comfortable, and quick, then know that you are traversing an old, beaten path. But if the journey toward fulfilling your dreams is hard, uncomfortable, awkward and takes a considerable amount of time, then this is a good sign: it means that you’re hard at work creating a new path for you (and all who came before you).

So, do not be discouraged, hermana.

To be a pioneer is to be the first to encounter the wild bears and poisonous snakes of a brave new world that neither you, nor your parents, nor your ancestors ever knew (or ever thought was possible). To be a pioneer is to be the first to encounter only fresh obstacles, only new challenges, only hitherto unknown cloisters.

A pioneer must look very strange–and nearly senile–or else he is no pioneer.

If you look normal and are given instant approval for all the work that you do (and all that you are) then you are likely traveling the old, beaten path of your ancestors. However, if you look laughably abnormal, and are met with disapproval more often than you’d prefer (or are ignored, dismissed, and underestimated) then you are likely forging ahead, down the new path of your dreams.

If you feel like you must constantly be pushing in order to make your dreams come true, then know that you are on the right track. You are on the right track because creating a new path takes work. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes courage. It takes, most of all, copious amounts of creativity.

So…

Push.

Don’t walk the old path.

Push.

Forge head, down a new path.

Push.

There is nothing wrong with walking the old path if it’s serving you well. But if the old path is not serving you well, then maybe it’s time for you to forge head, down a new path, and join us, the pioneers.

much love,

Ollin

Today’s Courage Exercise

Push.

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14 comments on “Forging Ahead, Down A New Path (Or Why Following Your Dreams Is So Hard)

  1. Thanks for the encouragement to continue to Push, Ollin. Rather timely reading for me. I’ve been pushing for quite awhile and have recently seen indications that my new path on the way to being a Real Writer (as in recognized, paid, thinking of myself in those terms) is really happening. I am exhilarated by my very recent success so it’s important for me now to keep on believing in the new creative path. Have a courageous day! As always, thanks for the inspiration. -Dana

  2. Once again, a wonderfully inspirational and encouraging post, Ollin. Thank you so much. XOXO

  3. juliegum says:

    Yep. Inion’s right. Great, grand, plain grand, Ollin.
    Julie

  4. i feel like you are speaking right to me…Thanks Ollin for being You….Pushing- Pushing-Pushing!

  5. Fran Brown says:

    You’ve given me a push, to push myself, to get the book done:)Thank you Ollin. I really need that push🙂

  6. Morgan says:

    River’s change course during flooding and earthquakes, when a cataclysm makes the old way impassible. Maybe it’s not pushing we need, but a change big enough to make the old way unendurable. Then, of course, we will still crash into obstacles, cutting a new path, and the old ways will be tempting. But all rivers flow to the sea.

    • Ollin says:

      Really great point Morgan. You’re right, but I’d rather not wait for an earthquake. I’d rather get moving in a new direction now, haha.

  7. Katrina Begg says:

    Thank you for this. It is hard sometimes to not be taken seriously, but that’s usually by the people who don’t want to believe that a new way is possible. I will keep pushing forward.

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