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Sometimes you just need to choose balloons

We can all go through life doing the right thing, knowing the exactly correct way to live and following it. Like little goats staggering our way along the thickest of thickets, we kick and gnaw and jump, just so we can go on that high, craggy path that leads to the right place.

Jump off it and you fail, run down the mountain by the meadow path and you fail; stop off at Old Man Blue's house for oatcake and tea and you fail. If the norm is to push and push through the most painful of trials, to take a smoother path is seen as failure.

When did everyone decide we were going up that damn mountain? Who put the map on the table at the other end and pointed to the one place we all had to reach? Was it someone who should have known better? Or did they really think it was best to shove every last one of us to the start of the path then close the gate behind us?

I'd rather not. I don't mind the easy path, if it means stopping on the way down or up and lying in the grass while clouds drift overhead. In the deep mist when I should be following voices to find my way, I would rather hunker down by the lion-shaped crag and wait for the sun to come out. Yes, I might not reach the top with the rest of you but who cares? You may care, I do not.

At the top you can go back-clapping and high-fiving and know you are kings of the universe. It doesn't matter. That little dot of colour bobbing below will be me, far from it all, following my own path with the heady, winsome, abstract echo of laughter of the balloon.

It jogs in the wind when I walk slowly and it lags behind it I forget to hold it high. When I think myself alone, it taps me on the back and I make sure it stays close and safe. When other people are struggling, I let them see me having this moment of fun. It's better to show them the bright, dancing ball of childlike delight than to say, 'Are you sure you want to carry on as you are?'

Moments later and life can take us anywhere. Let go of the string and the balloon goes without you, sailing into the sky, a glance of rainbow in the corner of your eye. That too is a joy, to see it free, as if this simple flight is what it was meant to be after all, instead of what you expected.

Somewhere, a path waits and it doesn't need to be checked at every step or lit by a thousand torches. If you find the right one, you barely need to look down and can keep your eye on where you are going, or hesitate while you set down and wait to think.

Take joy with you, forget the need to force your way through and choose balloons when others would choose stout walking boots and maps of every path to the summit. There is cake on this little bend in the mountain and a balloon floating free in the bright, spring blue of the sky. Take this way for a while and see where it leads.


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