On The Beaten Path

Nicholas - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Entered on February 22, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

It was a cloudy, rainy day on top of the Great Wall of China, and I knew my friends and I had only fifteen minutes to get back to the bottom of the valley where the bus was waiting for us. We stood at literal fork in the road. Either we could go down the wall the way we came up and see everything we had seen before, or we could go down a dirt path that went down the side of the mountain.

The choice was clear after promising the worrywart in our small group that the bus was not going to leave without us. The dirt path was slippery from the rain and we were having difficulty negotiating secure footing. We finally made it to a beautiful pavilion overlooking the valley below. The sight was dazzling that we stared down over the expanse at our bus and the lane of vendors below for a few minutes . Most of our group turned back, but the worrywart and a friend of mine stayed with me as we took the smaller dirt path even deeper into the mountainside.

After more slipping and sliding I found a smaller dirt path leading off our own. It was smaller, less traveled, and went in the wrong direction. I promised my group mates that I just wanted to see where it went and I would be back in a minute. It didn’t take me long to see why there was path leading to nowhere. It led to a gigantic boulder that actually hung out over the lip of a few hundred-foot precipice, like Pride Rock from The Lion King. This view put the pavilion’s to shame. The rain had finally stopped and all of a sudden everything became greener. I looked out between the two mountain ranges that lined the valley and looked up to see sections of the Great Wall riding the ridge like a majestic dragon. The mix of fog and smog accented the mountains so the view was almost surrealistic. This view couldn’t be seen from the stretch of the wall that we walked up, so the three of us were the only people in our group of students to see this view.

I think that people too often get a one-track-mind mentality about life and pursue something like a job, or school to the point that it is detrimental. There isn’t enough unscheduled time in life, and I believe that we should make some. This time is when I want to get my legs all scratched up from running down a dirt bath on the side of some Chinese mountain for the sake of seeing something new. I have a picture of me on that rock, and I hope I never lose it because it reminds me every time I look at it that I need to get onto the beaten path and off the road.