Alone for the first time I could remember, I stopped and stood to study the wood before me. I bowed my head, closed my eyes and drew a deep, deliberate breath, determined to clear my mind.
I lifted my head as I opened my eyes. Across the small clearing a distinct path was directly ahead of me. Except for one young tree that I could easily step around, my eyes followed a straight, fair distance. Farther along, and higher up, from behind two darker masses, peeked a hint of misty, gray-blue sky; like foggy sunlight glowing from behind lace curtains into an unlit room.
I imagined the walk and where it led. I wanted more.
Turning my head slowly back and forth, I could make out gaps between trees, suggesting other paths. Unmoved, I scanned the wood’s edge again more slowly. Every opening I had noticed before seemed to have narrowed. But as I turned my face to my right, my vision voluntarily shot ahead a few yards. Without the slightest movement in the tree line my eyes stopped where I perceived a lane. The trees there seemed a slightly lighter shade of color and the ground cover sparser amongst blotches of grassy spots.
Uncertain, I looked past that point following the clearing until my neck stretched fully, and then turned it back again, expecting what had been another illusion would be gone. Instead the trailhead was more distinct and seemed even lighter. I glanced back at the obvious path straight ahead of me. I thought to look all around one more time, but instead my foot lifted, I stepped to the right and the rest of me followed the right path into the wood.
Years later, as I reflect upon that turn, I wonder if my life would have been different had I taken the obvious path in front of me. Is predictable better? Was the right path wrong? Would loss and suffering have stayed with me on another trail? Was it all the difference or was it destiny?