Awhile back I saw this phrase in a book or article, and it struck me as something to be explored. What is the well-worn path? In the context that makes sense to me, it’s where we find ourselves in life … especially when we want to change our life.
It’s the routines we have and the things we believe about ourselves. For example, I tell myself that I’m not a morning person, and that gives me permission to hit the Snooze button one more time (and then a few more after that). I’d rather stay in bed than get out and have to face a new day. I could change that but instead I pull the covers up and hit Snooze one more time, telling myself that I’ll do it differently the next morning or after the weekend is over. But I don’t.
There was a dirt road at the end of the street where I grew up. I used to go there and take walks when I needed some time to think. It was used as a fire road so the trail was wide enough for a truck, and there were ruts in the road from those trucks’ tires. It was easy to walk in the rut although it wasn’t necessarily the smoothest part of the path. That was inches away from where my feet were but it meant stepping up and trying something different.
There were other obstacles on the trail like the rattlesnake coiled up and enjoying the warmth of the sun one day. I had options: turn around and head back home, turn around and find a smaller path off the fire road or walk around the snake. That day I was brave. I positioned myself as far away from the snake as I could without getting into the tall grass (who knows what might have been lurking there?) and made sure it’s head was facing away from me (let’s not tempt fate!) Then I walked around it and proceeded down the trail.
I took a risk when I decided to have bariatric surgery to help me lose weight. I could have continued on the path I was on, slowly gaining weight every year and more importantly, not being happy with what I was able to do. I could barely walk more than a few feet without getting out of breath or needing to sit down and take the weight off of my arthritic knees.
But I had the surgery and lost a total of 115 pounds both before and after the procedure. I have also gained back approximately half of that.
I thought losing the weight would mean I could stop taking medications and get rid of the CPAP. But that didn’t happen for me. I still had high blood pressure along with high cholesterol sleep apnea. That was so discouraging for me, and I stopped trying to follow the rules. It felt like they had failed me.
But now I’m realizing that I need to look at why I wanted the surgery, why I wanted to change my life and why I gave up. I don’t have the answers today, but it’s important for me to reconnect with that part of myself that was willing to look at where I was going pre-surgery and where I want to be.
That’s something I need to remember. It’s okay to take a risk. It’s okay to step out of the comfortable routines. It’s okay to see the well-worn path and step out of it to create a new one.