Imagine you’re walking through the woods. No map. No compass. No phone. You’re looking for a spectacular waterfall so beautiful it could change your life, but you need to figure out how to get there.

It definitely exists. You’ve spoken to people who’ve seen it. They promised you it was worth the effort. You just need to find it. So you set off into the woods in search of this awe-inspiring place.

But without clear directions, every step contains uncertainty. “How much further is it? Am I going the right way? How long is this going to take? Is this even gonna be worth it? Am I wasting my time?”

The paths in the woods provide some comfort, but still, you can’t be sure which ones lead to the waterfall you desperately want to experience for yourself.

If you came to a trail sign that said “WATERFALL AHEAD,” you’d know you’re on the right path. Just keep going.

If the trail sign said, “WATERFALL AHEAD – 15 MILES”, you’d know you’re on the right path with a lot of distance left to cover. Prepare for the endurance to get there.

If you pass a person walking in the opposite direction, you might ask them if the waterfall is ahead or if they know how to find it. If they told you, “Oh, you’re going the wrong direction,” and pointed you in the right direction, you’d know to change course.

Without a reliable guide, trail signs, or meeting people along the way who know how to reach the waterfall, you could be in the woods much longer than you’d like. You may decide that the waterfall isn’t that important to you, is probably overrated, or can’t be found without special tools and technologies.

In life, the trail signs aren’t always clear, either. Sometimes they don’t exist at all. Guides are only sometimes trustworthy. People point you toward their favorite “waterfall,” which might not be the one you want to experience.

Would all this be easier if the answers were evident whether you’re going in the right or wrong direction? Yes.

But then, it wouldn’t be the free adventure that defines life. It wouldn’t demand all the little details and big decisions, all memories made and lessons learned that give our journey through life its deepest meaning.

In the end, it may be the walk through the woods that changes your life, but you only realize it once you’re standing at the waterfall.