An ant stood at the beginning of a very long path, and the path was so very long that there was no chance he would see the end for quite some time. Up and up it wound, high into the heavens. It was a long journey, and no one was forcing him to make this journey. It was his own choice. He could easily have stayed at home amidst the green, green grass, and no one would have called him out for it. But there was something inside him that would not let him sleep until he traveled the long path.
|Yon bonny road . . .|
Now that he had finally set his cap on the journey, he faltered. Will I make it? he wondered. There are so many side roads, so many pretty roads off the main path. Perhaps I should take one of them. There was a green path that was lush and beautiful with promises of plenty forever. There was an orange path with excitement and entertainment and distraction. There was a yellow path with energy and ambition and a taste of real ruthlessness. And there was a red path. Yes, it was red and luscious and filled with passion and danger and enchantment. Each path was exciting and each path called to him. And . . . there was the red path, after all.
But there was the main path, too, the path that wound ever upward, the path that nagged at him on the inside and would not let him sleep. It was a rough path, a plain brown path. It was hard and scaly, without color or distraction. It was clear—that is true—but it was taxing, tiresome. This path would take everything he had to survive. This path was full of pitfalls and challenges and quests. There would be no easy resting or playful distractions. This path would demand his full attention, but more, it would demand his love and devotion. For no one could travel this path out of mere interest. It had to be traveled out of first duty, then love. And duty and love care very little for glittery pastimes, as any ant can tell you.
Of course, rumors had filtered down now and then from other ants who had taken the long path and then drifted off on a tangent, on a colorful road. Oh, there were stories of parties and glamour, of power and intrigue! There were rumors of excitement and enticement and hypnotic joy. Many stories filtered down to where the little ant stood at the beginning of the path. There were so many choices to make in the beginning (more so than at the end, although he did not know this).
But never once did a story filter down about the long and difficult and plain brown path. No one once thought to send a message back, although it was known that some had made the journey upward. At a certain point, though, no further information came back along the path to those who were just beginning. So it was frightening to this little ant—and to most ants, for that matter. Even though it was clearly demarcated with the way marked starkly, it was a path that few took.
And there he stood, this ant, at the very beginning. Somehow he had the sense to know that he had to make his choice now, not later when he was on the path. He had to choose now in which direction he would go. Changes could be made later, of course, but they would be costly. The price would be dear. For every road that opened to him and that he chose to take, another road would surely close forever. But the main path, the plain brown path, it was always there. Yet once wandered off, it had the peculiar habit of always being just around the bend and never very easy to access again.
But it was the top, the promise at the end—whatever that might be—that kept the little ant staring upward, avoiding the colorful distractions. I shall take the Path of the Arrow, he said to himself. And like an arrow, I will fly straight to the mark. It was a decision he made, a choice at the beginning. And so he set off, this ant did, along the plain and brown bonny road, meager pack cinched tightly on his shoulders.
It was a long journey and there was no way of knowing when and where it would end. But it was the heavens he was going for now, traversing across the colorful Veil of the Temple, and of course, he knew that he would not be coming back. He would discard his beautifully-woven robe when the time came and head into the unknown. He was small in stature but great in spirit. He was on the path.
And there has been no word from him now for eons. But the path is still there, as straight as ever it was, an arrow pointing up to the heavens.