An hour north of New York City there is a small town called Cold Spring. Many people from the big city like to hike in the areas surrounding the small town because of how easy it is to access from the local commuter rail.
One day, a man from the big city decided to go hiking the day after a rainfall. The weather would keep away many of the people who would usually hike on a Saturday morning, leaving the man all the room he needs to reconnect with nature and himself.
He decided to take the big loop, a nine-mile trail that had beautiful views of the Hudson River halfway through where he could stop and eat his lunch.
It was winter and there were patches of ice throughout the trail, but the day after the rainfall was unusually warm so the man didn’t worry about it.
After a few miles, the man reached a fork in the road. If he went left, the path would shorten the hike and lead back to where he started. If he went to the right, he would head toward Breakneck Ridge, the cliff that overlooked the river.
Before making a choice he decided to eat the muffin and drink the coffee he brought with him, for it was his favorite. All of a sudden an old man sauntered from the path on the right.
“Do you know where you’re going?” asked the old man.
“I sure do,” said the man, assuring the old man that the coffee break was intentional. “I’m heading up to Breakneck Ridge.”
“I was going that way too, but it’s too icy. Decided to turn back,” said the old man. “I recommend you do the same.”
A wave of realization hit the man as he realized that this would be a defining moment for him. He was a year away from turning 30 years old and had been working on listening to his own voice. For too long, the man believed, he listened to what other people wanted him to do.
The old man went on his way and the man was left to make his decision. Left or right? Take the advice or continue on his intended path?
How icy was icy anyway? Maybe what was too icy to the old man was an acceptable amount to the man.
It was then that he knew, perhaps he always knew, that going up to Breakneck Ridge would be him listening to his ego. He finished his coffee and resolutely went to the left.
When he arrived at the trailhead he saw a path for a smaller trail he had never seen before. This trail led to the river, so he decided to take it.
He ended up eating his lunch in front of the water. It was not the view he planned on, but he appreciated it just the same. He thought that maybe he didn’t need to make so many rules for himself and instead trust his intuition.