The Beauty and Opportunities Created by Changing Paths

When you go hiking, it’s super obvious that if you don’t take the right path, you might get lost. That or you’ll end up by the lake when you were actually trying to get to the mountaintop. In life, it isn’t so obvious how changing paths can impact the outcome of our journey. Unless you stop and consider the beauty and value of these deviations.

Which is exactly what I’d like to take a moment to do…

Years ago, I found myself at a crossroad that would change the course of my life forever.  At the time, it didn’t seem like a life-altering path change. But when I look back now, I laugh thinking about how one little thing could have taken me into a completely different direction.

Changing Paths Crossroad


The original path

I was back home in Canada, between adventures, strengthening my home roots. I working at some random contract job.  My plan was to work until December, which was the end date of my contract and then be off to the next adventure by the New Year. I had decided that I wanted to move to Africa to work on a local project as a volunteer.

I was looking for a way to change the course of my professional life.  I decided that maybe spending a few years within a different culture, offering whatever I could as a professional, and squeezing all the learning in that I possibly could, would be ideal. 
The plan was that until January I’d look into opportunities all over different places of this continent that was completely unknown to me.  I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, I wasn’t sure what I’d do, but that didn’t matter. Sorting out adventure logistics was something I loved to do.  I was thrilled about this idea of this new project.

Changing Paths Africa

The roadblock

All was going according to plan, when all of sudden, in September, the company I was working for told us that they’d have to cut our contracts short.  Due to the weather (only in Canada does extreme cold affect the possibility to work outside in September) we wouldn’t be able to keep relocating mailboxes (yes, it was a very random job I had).

Although I didn’t really care about the job, it did affect how much money I’d be able to save by December. Without the income from the mailbox relocation job, going to Africa wouldn’t be feasible.
I’d have to decide which was a better option:
a) Maintain my January departure plan, but cancel the plan to go to Africa. I’d have to find somewhere different to go that wouldn’t require so much savings.
b) Follow through with the plan to go to Africa, but postpone the departure date.
Changing Paths Decision
I spend weeks debating this conundrum.
While I decided, I job-hunted to find a new contract to start once the mailbox relocation contract finished. My decision would also depend on how much I liked or didn’t like the new job I found.  Time came and went, mailbox relocation ended, a new job started and in no time, I decided that a January departure was the priority.

Finding a new direction

For many, time restraints and pressure to make a quick decision about a huge life change might cause stress or anxiousness. But I live for these types of decisions. They are the kind of situations that I thrive in. New adventure planning/research mode was on.
Before I  even got a chance to tell my parents about the change of plan, I had booked a flight and sorted out plans for the new adventure.
The thought process went a bit like this:
– Where could I go volunteer with less money saved up?
– Maybe South or Central America could be cool!
– But I don’t speak Spanish.  I can’t volunteer if I can’t speak the language.
– I’ll learn Spanish!
– Where would I go learn Spanish? Where could I afford? Where am I interested in going?
Then, as quickly as I doubted the answers to all these questions, were answers create and a new plan was made.

I booked Spanish school and homestay in Guatemala for January.

Changing PAths Guatemala
Ridiculously beautiful Quetzaltenango, Guatemala would become my new home for the next 6 months.


Walking the new road

And with that quick decision, I changed paths completely.  There was a fork in the road; I thought I’d be going right, then finally went left. Had I gone down the other path, every single thing in my life would have been different. 
The path veering left has ended up bringing me towards a whole new world. My professional life, my romantic life, my spiritual life and every other part of my world would all become something completely different than it would have been otherwise.
The funny thing is that this happens to us every day. Every day we make decisions or avoid making decisions that shape our lives. We are where we are today because of all the big and small decisions we’ve taken at each one of our lives’ crossroads.
The only reason this change of course from going to Africa to going to Guatemala especially sticks in my mind is because of how obvious the change has impacted my life.  But realistically, every little thing that happens or doesn’t happen in my life could drastically change things just as much.  

Changing Paths for Me

Being a conscious decision maker

Thinking of this situation reminds of how important is it to make sure that all the decisions that I make in my life, big or small, are completely 100% mine. 

I can forgive myself if I decide a course of action and it doesn’t turn out as perfectly as I had imagined. But I have a very hard time forgiving myself for drifting through decisions unconsciously, no matter what the outcome.  If the unconscious decision ends up working out positively, it wasn’t even something I decided, so I can’t take credit for it. And if it turns out negatively, it’ll have been my fault for not proactively choosing the options that I wanted.
Inevitably, many things that happen in life are completely out of our hands; lost loves, lost jobs, illness, death, accidents, etc.  We can never kick ourselves in the butt for the world’s intervention in our lives.  These unexpected curveballs will happen. The more that we can accept that that’s part of the deal of life, the better off we are.
But that is not what we are talking about here. What I am talking about is making sure that you don’t forget to be active and present when crossroads are presented.
Life is quick, it’ll happen with or without you. Why not enjoy the ride, and make this a journey you actually wanna be on. Make it yours. Take responsibility.  Don’t just let it pass on by without stepping up to the plate. 


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Changing Paths


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. jackie

    I think your very honest about life and do something about what ever goes on in our lives
    do something about our situations
    Aunt jackie

    1. Jo

      Thanks, Aunt Jackie! I completely agree! We get to make our ow lives

  2. Bron

    It’s hard to imagine you not speaking Spanish!!! You are always my go to translator! Even for the trickiest of conversation

    1. Jo

      Ya, now that it’s been in my world for so long, it’s hard to imagine myself not speaking it.

  3. Evaline

    Reading posts like this make surfing such a plruasee

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