It seems that every time my fiance and I hike, we manage to end up on a different trail than we intended. Sure, we get back to our car in the end, but a few missed turns or curious wanderings later and we’re often somewhere we didn’t plan to be.

Recently, we hiked an unmaintained trail at Patapsco State Park, meaning no trail markers along the way. Long story short, we ended up hiking for an extra two hours! (Don’t worry, though, we made it out and saw some beautiful scenery.)

When joking with him about how we always manage to veer off the path for a while, he said something that really resonated with me: “Isn’t that life?”

And yes, it is life.

* * *

I didn’t plan to be on the path to marriage at the age of twenty one.

My plan was to be single and focus on college and then a career. I wasn’t supposed to get married until my late twenties or early thirties. It was just going to be me and a dog.

My fiance didn’t plan for his first engagement to fail and to still be single in his mid twenties.

His plan was to get married first and then start on a career; instead, he graduated college single and started his first professional job while in a very new relationship (with me).

I didn’t plan to become a marathoner.

Did I plan to be healthy and workout? Sure. But I never dreamed of conquering 26.2 miles; I never dreamed of wanting to.

My fiance didn’t plan to have a sister lost to suicide.

He planned to have a normal, happy family for his entire life. He wasn’t supposed to lose someone he cherished so deeply.

I didn’t plan to graduate college a semester early.

I was going to be there for four years. Oh, I was going to focus on marketing, too. Who knew that I’d fall in love with writing.

My fiance didn’t plan to take a year off college and go to Costa Rica.

He was supposed to graduate from Virginia Tech and have the typical college experience. Instead, he left Virginia Tech after his sister passed and went on a retreat in Costa Rica. Then he attended community college, eventually transferring to a four-year university.

Yet, we are doing just fine. In fact, we are quite happy.

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If I had followed my intended path, I would’ve never fallen in love … with my fiance, with running, with writing. I would be a completely different person who would probably be rather void of passion.

If my fiance had followed his intended path, he would’ve never met me, learned to be patient and calm, landed his current job, or navigated through the hardest time of his life.

I’m a more passionate person for where my wanderings have taken me; he’s a more level-headed, caring person for where his wanderings have taken him.

Early on we drew out imaginary maps of our lives with landmarks along the way to make us happy and/or put us where we thought we should be, but we forget to draw any side roads or unmarked trails. We only had one main path, leading from the start of our lives to our supposed finishes. Luckily, life filled in what we forget, and we’ve ended up much better people for it; we’ve also ended up together.

So use a map if you want to; follow a main trail. But let your curiosities and errors lead you astray because you may end up a better person for it.

crumpled map

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