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paths taken and not

encounter with my younger self at an intersection of paths taken and not

When I reach another fork in the path there is a boldly lettered sign on a tree that reads “TRAIL” accompanied by an equally bold directional arrow.

In front of it stands a small girl with a teal backpack and ribboned pigtails, staring at the sign with a quiet, serious intensity.

I am having an internal debate about whether to follow the sign or to see where this other path goes, she informs me before I can ask her if she’s lost.

She points down a path on the right, equally trail-like and leaf-covered, one of several options that the left-pointing arrow has chosen to ignore.

I ask if she’s worried about getting lost. She shakes her head, pigtails a-flutter, and explains to me that she has a phone and GPS and she can yell really loud if need be.

The woods are not that big, she tells me, and she gives my hand a comforting little pat. But you can walk through them different ways so the walking seems longer and has more surprises, and you always get to where you’re supposed to be eventually, even if you get stuck for a while or the walking makes your feet hurt.

She gives me a macaroon from her backpack and a cheerful wave before she heads off along the unarrowed trail.

I stare at the sign after she goes for a long time, internally debating which path to take myself while I nibble my macaroon.

 

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

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