Those are my boots and they are standing on the path. The footprint beside mine is from someone (probably me earlier in the week) who stepped off the path and sunk into two feet of snow. At Shambhala Mountain Center the paths get trod again and again all winter, packing down the snow hard enough for a large man to walk on top of without getting snow in his sandals, if he were so inclined. When new snow falls, it covers the path for a while and it has to be rediscovered the hard way. The people who know the paths best often travel them early enough in the morning for us vacationing layabouts to later follow in their footsteps and make it safely to breakfast. I think the metaphor is apt.
Follow the lead of those who have gone before to stay on the path and if you fall, pick yourself up again, dump the snow out of your boot, and keep going because there is hot chocolate in nirvana. (Well, okay, maybe not, but it sounds good to me, eh?)