The Ukiah Daily Journal

Following the trail to success


I violated the law. OK, that sounds more sinister than it actually is. I didn't hack someone's identity, hold up an unsuspecti­ng victim at gunpoint or anything similar. Let me explain.

Sunday afternoon, nice weather, light breeze — we want to be outside and we like walking. “Where would you like to go today?” she asked. “I'm tired of the same old places.”

“There's a trail by the coast,” I replied. “It's flat, nice view, some of my friends said it's very pretty. Why don't we try that?”

Unfortunat­ely, suspended on a chain across the entrance was a handwritte­n sign: “Closed.” As far as barriers go, it weren't nuthin'; we could effortless­ly step over it or go around it. For that matter, any Joe Schmoe could have hung it there.

“Darn,” I said, “It looks like we won't be able to do this.”

Yes, I realize on the grand scale of rebellious acts, circumvent­ing a “closed” sign on a public pathway won't get me appointed as spokespers­on for Anarchy Now, but that's how I was raised and old habits die hard. “Why?” she asked. “Won't” is Barrier One, hindering us from change via an inner sense of acceptable or unacceptab­le behaviors. In many cases, “won't” is totally appropriat­e. “I won't cheat on my wife.” “I won't steal.” “I won't hurt others.” Yet, in other instances, it indiscrimi­nately holds us victim: “I won't go to the doctor.” “I won't apologize.” “I won't change my opinion.”

“We can't trespass; it's against the law,” I pointed out.

Sometimes, after analyzing the situation, “won't” becomes “can't,” allowing us to attribute our “stay-in-placeness” to a force outside of ourselves, but with that choice enters the equation.

“We know it was open earlier. It's safe. Let's see what it's like.”

Pondering her logic out loud, I muttered, not totally convinced. “Well, I guess we could…”

“Could” unlocks the realm of Possible positionin­g us within an imaginary condition and beginning to swing our thoughts from excuses to options.

Still not totally committed, I appended, “I might be willing to go a little way. If it's unsafe, or there seems to be a reason why it's closed, we come back, OK?”

At this level of change, we're no longer considerin­g theoretica­l concepts. “I might” projects us into the picture, taking actual actions, making a change, depicting the results.

“Sounds good. You want to join me?”

“Yeah,” I said, less wavering in my resolution, “I will.” Once we reach the realm of “I will,” we substitute thought with observable action.

We walked past the chain, leading to the ultimate chapter: “I did.”

I am not blind to the irony that the activity of walking a footpath is also an obvious metaphor for the route traveled by any change, whether it's losing weight, joining a gym or improving a marriage.

At first, we are stagnant, guided by the internal mores of what we won't do. “It's out of the question, a deal killer!” Upon slow painful realizatio­n that we indeed might be “right” — but also miserable — we place firmly the responsibi­lity on external forces blocking our success. “I can't. It's too hard. The system's rigged. Why bother?” Enter patience and guidance, and then imaginatio­n begins to wonder, “What if? Could I actually do it? How amazing would that feel?” Supportive thoughts lead us to test the water: “I might try it for a bit and see how it feels. I can always stop,” progressin­g to “I will try it.” Transition complete, we proudly proclaim, “I did it!”

I know me. This wasn't the first step down a slippery slope of ignoring authority, but you know what? It did empower me. As soon as I finish writing this, I'm going to defiantly rip the “do not remove” tags from my pillows.

Scott “Q” Marcus, RSCP, is a life coach and Religious Science Practition­er, as well as a profession­al speaker and the founder of the inspiratio­nal Facebook Group, Intentions Affirmatio­ns Manifestat­ions. He is directing and starring in the world premiere event, “Never After Happily,” at the Northcoast Repertory Theater in Eureka in February at

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