There is no Path, we Create it with Every Action

No path

We fall in love with ideas and stories we have of ourselves, our work, and the people in our lives, and we hold on to them tightly. Forgetting that change happens. Our attempt to “balance” work with relationships and self create an unnecessary burden —we are asking the wrong question.

In The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship Poet David Whyte says, “each of these three marriages is non negotiable. […] Each represents a core conversation with life that seems necessary for almost all human beings and non of the marriages can be weakened or given up without a severe sense of internal damage.”

Our endless quest for finding a formula for success overlooks the difference between winning and succeeding. We want certainty, but pay little attention to the nature of the path. Many of us have already walked many paths in various parts of life, and may have experienced degrees of personal transformation along the way. But we cling onto the idea of a path to follow.

Says Whyte in River Flow: New & Selected Poems:

No Path

There is no path that goes all the way.

[Han Shan]

Not that it stops us looking

for the full continuation.

The one line in the poem

we can start and follow

straight to the end. The fixed belief

we can hold, facing a stranger

that saves us the trouble

of a real conversation.

But one day you are not

just imagining an empty chair

where your loved one sat.

You are not just telling a story

here the bridge is down

and there's nowhere to cross.

You are not just trying to pray

to a God you imagined

would keep you safe.

No, you've come to the place

where nothing you've done

will impress and nothing you

can promise will avert

the silent confrontation,

the place where

your body already seems to know

the way having kept

to the last its own secret


But still, there is no path

that goes all the way

one conversation leads

to another

one breath to the next


there is no breath at all


the inevitable

final release

of the burden.

And then

your life will

have to start

all over again

for you to know

even a little

of who you have been.

The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship by David Whyte is a thoughtful and soulful exploration on finding the central conversation that holds the three most important aspects of our lives together. “We are collectively exhausted because of our inability to hold competing parts of ourselves together in a more integrated way,” he says.