“I think we’re going the wrong way, Dave.”
“Can’t you hear the waterfalls, Donica? They must be nearby.”
“Yeah, well, this ‘trail’ of ours is turning into a deer path. We need to turn back.”
“But we’re SO close!”

I’m a stubborn guy when it comes to directions. Most of the time I do get us going in the right direction; my internal compass is pretty solid. Nevertheless, there are times when even the best of us get turned around, and such is the case on a warm, sunny December day in western Thailand, as my wife and I stumble through the forest in search of Thailand’s glittering Erawan Waterfalls. For some reason, we both agreed to step off the well-marked trail to the falls and try a nifty shortcut, bypassing the tourists and sling-shotting us all the way to the top.

Alas, things don’t go quite as expected. Our shortcut peters out after 45 minutes and we have to backtrack.

Sidenote: backtracking is never fun. Not only does the path never looks quite the same on your return trip, making it easy to get “double-lost,” but backtracking always feels like admitting defeat. “Our brilliant work-around failed. We’ve wasted so much time!” Nevertheless, backtrack we must.
On track at last after our 90-minute detour, we soon espy the first of Erawan’s 7 levels of falls, corresponding to the Buddha’s 7 levels of enlightenment. It’s a stunning sight. Formed from soft, translucent limestone, the falls emanate an ethereal glow, their collecting pools radiating a luminescent aquamarine. Even better – all the pools are shallow, and no one seems to mind if you jump right in for a spontaneous bath.
Donica and I slowly wind our way up to top of the falls — on the correct path this time! Each of the 7 falls are a little bit different, making it a fun (and photogenic journey).

“Hey Donica, look over there; I see a side path. Maybe it’s a shortcut to the bottom!”
“Don’t even think about it, Dave.”

When is the last time you tried a shortcut, only to have it fizzle out on you? Were you able to let go of expectations, or did you obsess on your mistake? What would your life be like if you could take risks, assess your progress, and graciously let go when necessary, without self judgement? How would that change things for you?