That was the motto that I lived with ever since I encountered it back in high school.
I used to think that it was one of the best quotes ever because it provides motivation for people to strive to reach a goal that other people, their peers, have successfully accomplished.
It was only in my mid-twenties that I realized that saying was just another one of the subtle ways that I compared myself with my peers.
And that it hindered me from being the trailblazer, the pioneer, that I was always meant to be.
For how could I be a trailblazer when all I did was trod where others have trodden? All I ever did was to follow the paths that my classmates, schoolmates, older friends and cousins and siblings, have set before me?
So I gradually freed myself from the ties that bound me to that saying.
Whereas all my friends were rising higher in the corporate ladder and simultaneously raising kids with their high-paying jobs, I made the difficult decision to quit my own high-paying job (at which I was excelling and was about to be promoted) to become a stay-at-home mom.
Whereas all my friends stayed in the metropolis, renting posh apartments and condos, spending the weekends with their kids at the mall or the amusement parks, I made the difficult decision of moving back down south to the obscure city where none of my sophisticated friends have ever set foot in.
And now I live in a house that has my name on the paper, paying rent to no landlord.
And my kids and I spend the weekends exploring the paths that lead away from our house, often aboard our motorbike. We’ve already seen some truly awesome sights. And we plan to see more.
There are no amusement parks here. The circus only comes once every few years or so (and only at Chrismastime).
But we’ve spent many happy hours at the park near our home where the trees are so tall and their width so huge that we could barely wrap our arms around its trunk. And we’ve bathed in the cool water at the park’s flowing reservoir where we only had to pay a minimal entrance fee.
My kids don’t know what a skyway looks like. But that means they have an unobscured view of the sky where we try to decipher the shape of the clouds and try to count as many stars as our eyes can see.
My kids don’t know how it feels to run around the huge spaces in airconditioned malls, but they do know how it feels to run around the entire neighborhood with the sun beating down on their backs and their bodies filling up with sweat. They know the feeling of ease that comes from drinking a glass of water after each run.
I do not dare to question my friends’ decisions to stay in the metro. If they like it there, who am I to question them?
I guess this post is still a comparison between my decisions and that of my peers. But it is a comparison that I am happy to make because I know that I have blazed a trail that my kids would someday trod as happy and healthy individuals.