paths-01There is a path in my backyard. I don’t know where it leads and that is why I love it. What I love most is the feeling of adventure I get when I glance upon it. Sometimes I sit cross-legged and stare at it, imagining where it could go.

Sometimes I close my eyes and images form in my mind. A picturesque cottage comes into view after the last bend in the path. Flower boxes standing firmly on the window sill, filled with daisies and tulips that drape over the edge. Neatly trimmed grass surrounds the area and a thin stream of smoke emanates from the red-brick chimney, curling up into the light breeze swimming around outside. I see small wildflowers in bloom; hues of blue, pink, purple, yellow and red interspersed magnificently with the dense foliage of the scattered bushes. Tall trees border the cottage, shading it from the penetrating rays of the sun. It is lovely, entrancing. The birds all sing and the insects click.

It is beautiful but hazy. It is too good to be true; a façade so thick you can tell it is a fake. Soon the smoke overpowers the entire scene, clouding my vision and I get sucked back to the beginning, through a wormhole of blackness to the clear present of day. Other times I am led to a waterhole. This too is beautiful. A pool confined by the solid, encompassing jagged rock-face. Eucalypts grow tall and strong on either side. Leaf and bark litter cover the ground like a comfy pillow. It is quiet here, a secret place. It is peaceful yet lonely, a place to come and think and lose yourself. I like it here, but it too disappears and I am transported back to where I had started.

I sigh. There is only one solution: I must travel down the path and find out for myself. I stand and brush myself off. I lift my right foot and it just hovers in mid-air, as if there was no possible way to put it down again. They always said the first step is the hardest, they weren’t kidding. It is the most gut-wrenching moment. What if the real thing isn’t as good as what I imagined? What if I get there and it is a complete letdown? My foot sails to the ground and lands with a soft thud. The path turns this way and that until I don’t know which way I’m going. Twigs and leaves cover my way. There are so many I can’t brush them off. I have to tiptoe through the mess, there’s so much. Then I was there. I come to an abrupt halt and gaze at the place I had imagined for so long. It was all wrong. I didn’t want this, why had the path led me here? It wasn’t meant to be this way. This path was dark and murky, not clear and bright. I must’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Words by Amanda Mill 
Illustration by Josh Rowe