Many years ago I was at a low point in my life, going through what felt like a premature midlife crisis. I had lost my direction, and didn't know what to do with either myself or my life. One day, I gave up trying to figure things out and decided to take a hike up one of the mountains in the Lake District, close to where I lived at the time.
I had taken this particular path many times, and my usual routine was to hike beyond the tree line to where the track leveled out and a stunning vista of the lake below came into view. It was a very quiet place that didn't attract many walkers, and I would invariably stop and get my breath back there, take in the view for a while and then head back down the hillside.
But on this occasion, a strange thing happened. As I stood up to head towards home, I found myself walking in the opposite direction, further along the trail than I could remember venturing before. My thoughts were telling me it was getting late in the day and I ought to turn around, but something compelled me to keep going. I was puzzled, yet curious at the same time. It felt as if I had no choice but to continue walking up that mountain!
Eventually, I reached a point where the path disappeared out of view ahead of me and I decided that was it - I would go just far enough to see whatever was around that bend, and then I would turn back. I continued walking, and as I came around the corner, I was literally stopped in my tracks by a huge, reddish-brown stag. He was standing right in front of me and caught my eye as he looked down at me, cocking his majestic, antler-crowned head slightly as he did so. Despite his size and close proximity, I didn't feel at all afraid and, it seems, neither did he, because he simply stood there gazing at me for what felt like an eternity before slowly turning around and casually wandering off.
I was utterly spellbound as I watched him disappear into the distance. It was almost as if he had been waiting for me around that corner, and, having delivered his silent message, we were both free to go on our way. As I retraced my steps back down the hillside, I remember being struck by how differently I felt compared to when I had set off earlier in the afternoon. My head was completely free of gloomy thoughts, my spirits were soaring and I knew with absolute certainty that everything was going to work out just fine.
Wisdom comes to us in a thousand different ways. We have only to quit paying attention to that noisy internal chatter that has an all-too familiar ring to it, and let ourselves be guided by a deeper knowing that is always available to us, just waiting in the wings. Call it intuition or gut feeling, it has a quiet persistence to it that you can learn to recognize and pay attention to. 'Listen', it whispers. 'Step this way. A new perspective is just around the corner......'