One day a young man walked down a trail and found an old man seated at a crossroads. The old man said to the young man, I have walked these trails my entire life as my father did before me. He taught me the safe way through the woods, and he gave me the tools to help me. If you will permit me, I wish to give you the same gifts given to me. I will give you the tools and I will teach you the way. The young man said to the old man, “No thank you old man, I will find my own way.” The young man looked at the two paths. The one on the right was narrow and winding, and the one on the left wide and straight. The young man proceeded to take the path to the left.
The old man called after him, “Please do not go that way, it is fraught with danger. Let me show you the way.”
“No old man, I will find my own way,” the young man responded.
The young man proceeded down the trail he had chosen. Eventually, the brush became thicker and thicker, making it difficult to see the trail and slowing him down. Thorns and branches tore at his skin. His progress, without the needed tools and thus slowed by the brush, left him still on the trail as night fell. Rather than wait for sunrise and turn back to find the old man, the young man continued. I will persevere, and I will find my own way, he thought.
When the night reached its blackest moment, the young man felt his feet come out from under him and he tumbled into a deep dark pit. Try as he might, the young man could find no way to escape the pit. He clawed and climbed, only to fall back every time. He spent the remaining hours of the night in the pit weeping for his condition.
Finally, not long after sunrise, the young man heard a noise near the top of the pit. The young man trembled in fear that some beast had arrived to finish him off. Suddenly, cascading from the top of the pit came a long rope. The young man looked up to see the old man at the top of the pit.
The old man called down to the young man. “I knew where this trail you chose leads, so I followed you. I am here to help. Grab onto the rope, grab on tightly, and climb up and I will show you the way.”
The young man looked at the rope and up at the old man, wiped the tears from his eyes and shouted back.
“Don’t tell me what to do.”