The Long Road

I am walking down a road. In the beginning, there is heavy fog, and I can only see a tiny stretch of the road in front of me. I stumble on a few rocks at first but I quickly get back on my feet and soon enough I'm walking at a steady pace.

As I move forward, the fog lifts, or maybe my sight sharpens, I don't quite know. As a consequence, I begin to see a lot further ahead of me. I can see that the road goes on for much longer than I originally expected. At times, I stop walking and look back. I can still see the beginning of the road. I've made progress and that pleases me. But then I look forward again and I see that the road goes on for so long... I find that a little depressing at times...

I do not travel this road alone. Often I spot other travelers heading in the same direction. Sometimes, on sinuous parts of the road I manage to speak with those who are ahead of me. They tell me about the sights I have yet to see, and sometimes I wish I could just skip these parts of the road and hop along with them. But deep down I know that it's not worth cheating over. I will always know that I haven't traveled the road all the way if I start taking shortcuts.

There are travelers behind me also. Sometimes I'll let one or two catch up with me and we travel together for a while. Sometimes, in the sinuous parts, I cross people who are way behind and I try and encourage them with a few words of wisdom learnt along the way.

I reflect that some travelers move faster than others. They seem more dedicated, or perhaps they simply have more talent for walking. Once in a while, I meet up with a traveler who has stopped and settled down. I often think that they will be depressed or bitter about not having been able ton travel further, but really most of them are happy. They stopped because they felt they had traveled enough for their own satisfaction, and simply don't wish to go further.

At first, the road was pretty straight; there was only one route so to speak. But as I move along, I realize that there are more and more alternate paths, and it's sometimes hard to choose which one to travel on. It's hit and miss mostly. Sometimes I choose a long route only to realize that it didn't get me much further down the road, sometimes I put a lot of effort on what looks like a hard path, and it really pays. But after a long while, I start to realize that the further I go, the steeper the road as a whole becomes, no matter which paths I choose. It takes me a lot more effort to cover the same distance than it used to.

There are distractions along the way. Some of the alternate routes end up being dead ends or winding paths that lead back to where I started. There are also many inns by the side of the road filled with laughter, seductive wenches, and happy toddlers to entertain. So sometimes, I myself stop along the way. At first that made me feel guilty, but after a while I realize that I need those periods of rest to find confidence for the rest of the journey.

I can see the road all the way to the horizon now. I think I've finally figured out that there is no end to the road. No matter how much I walk down the long road, there will always be a longer stretch ahead of me. I have also realized that I will stop one day. There are those dedicated travelers who I believe will always keep walking until the day they die, and I truly admire that dedication. I think I don't have the willpower to do that myself. For now, I'm happy to continue to walk, but I know for a fact that I will settle down one day, and I'll still be happy with the journey I've made...