Fork-in-the-RoadThere is a small stretch of path on the local forest preserve bike trail I ride weekly that continually catches my attention. The path forks off at one point only to join again. As you traverse the trail you have to make a small decision. Do you take the short cut which involves a sharp turn near a thorn-bush or do you take the longer route around a beautiful tree. Both paths head in the same place but one path takes a little longer – the difference is about 45 feet (20 seconds). This seemingly insignificant quandary brings up a good point: In life, do we always look for short cuts or the longer way around. Which way is correct? Now, it is difficult to quantify whether or not taking one bike trail over the other really is going to matter in the grand scheme of life. Still, I use this “fork in the road” analogy as a mantra: “There are no short cuts in life – only the correct path – which is many times the longer path”. I have ridden this trail taking the long way around for years – it is just a habit now.

From my own experience I have learned that there are no proactive shortcuts in life. Normally, when you cut corners you are making decisions blindly, without full comprehension of the future recourse or karma. I have learned (many times the hard way) that usually the longer path is the correct path. I have learned that typically the more difficult path; the path that confronts your fear and ego; the path that requires mindfulness and effort is the correct path. Without effort what do you really have? With effort there is genuine energy exerted – a ripple that will return to the source – that is the premise of the Responsive Universe.

What is interesting about this whole premise is that we have the capability to teach ourselves mindfulness.  One simple notion or experience in life can trigger mindfulness which in turn creates awareness, clarity and wisdom – from this wellspring of energy comes a little nudge forward – mindful evolution moving you ahead and not backward. An actual mental imprint is created…

Just the other day I was letting my mind meander while on that same bike trail. I rode past the fork in the road completely oblivious of my mantra; did I take the short cut or the long way around? Ironically I could not  remember because my mind was in Hawaii or somewhere tropical while I mechanically pounded the pedals through that section of the trail. Have you ever done that? Completed a task while your mind was elsewhere? People do it all the time driving. Intrigued, I turned around to follow my path back – it was a dew kissed morning and I could see my wet tire tracks on the crushed gravel trail. Sure enough, I took the long way around – not even knowing it. Why does this matter? It proves we can reprogram our brains to react more mindful even when we are pre-occupied. It means we can condition ourselves to exert effort as a way of life – as a process of simply living and evolving. Repetition from mental and physical conditioning from the likes of yoga and meditation create the same energy – positive energy that in a sublime way lives on independently in this symbiotic relationship of energy changing form – that is the Responsive element that helps define our conscious Universe.

John C. Bader

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