The duality of staying on the path

Last weekend, after working all day on my side job on a Saturday, I decided some family and outside was important so I grabbed my son and said, “Let’s go for a walk.”

Across the street on our cul-de-sac is a heavily wooded area, so we opted for some exploring. From the outside, it was a little rough. There were logs to climb over, thorns, vines, and various detritus to overcome. My boy is 3.5 years old now, and I was sure he would want to turn back. Nevertheless, he persisted. We fashioned a couple of walking sticks, beat against branches in our way, and pushed on deeper into the woods.

The further we went, the clearer the area became. The trees were more spaced out, and it became much easier to walk. We kept going. We had to see how far we could go. It was new and exciting. We stumbled upon a path in the woods. I’m unsure how it got there. Was it from the abundant deer we have in our area? Was it from neighborhood kids from before? There’s no way to know, really.

The path isn’t visible from outside of the woods. The path is only visible when you’re deep in it.

It struck me how similar that is to how things are going for us now with our financial journey. When we first got started, getting adjusted to being on a budget was not easy. Saying “no” to desires can be quite an exercise in self discipline. There are plenty of thorns that crop up along the way, like unplanned or forgotten expenses, which can be a defeating blow, at least momentarily.

Over time, the woods opened up, and the walk became easier. We have gotten used to a new normal and deny ourselves things all the time.

I ran out of cologne a couple of months ago, and decided not to get more until we are out of debt. It isn’t expensive, but it would take away from The Cause. My black hoodie has holes in the pockets, and a small brown stain on it that I’m positive people notice when I’m wearing it. The bands near my wrists are starting to fray as well. I don’t care. It’s good enough and the weather is starting to get warmer anyway. I’ve talked about how terrible my car looks, but it runs and it’s paid for, so screw it. I swallow my pride, pull into the parking lot where I’m surrounded by cars made within the last decade, and go about my day.

My wife is a natural saver, while I am a natural spender. Somehow, over this journey, I have started to change. I’m not tempted like I used to be. Believe me, I have tried. I have looked at cars and driven by houses for sale in the hopes of a little motivation, a little more drive to push in. It hasn’t worked. There was once a time I would scheme and plot to get things I wanted without saving up for them first. “Oh, I think we can afford it. I can make the monthly payments. We can make this work.”

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And now, I’m hardly tempted. I’m on a path, in the middle of the woods, here with my family. I can only wonder what it will be like when we’re out, but we’ll find out soon enough.

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