This path is short and long, and the other is long and short (Eruvin 53b).
The Talmud relates that these were the directions a young child gave to Rabbi Yehoshua when he asked the way to the city. Rabbi Yehoshua first took the short way. Although he soon found himself in the city's outskirts, fenced-in orchards blocked the entrance, and he had to retrace his steps and take the longer route, which eventually brought him to his destination.
In our haste, we often look for shortcuts. Who hasn't driven to an unfamiliar area, found what looked like a shortcut on the map and taken it, only to discover that it really was a very slow route, and that taking the highway might have indeed been a few miles longer, but it would have brought them to their destination much sooner? As someone said, "A shortcut is often the fastest way to get to somewhere you don't want to be."
Two men were put into a maze, and one soon found his way out. He stated that whenever he came to a dead end, he retraced his steps and marked the entrance to that path, so that he would know which one not to take.
If this principle is true with road travel, how much more so it is with the paths through life, where the apparent easier way is so often misleading. Some paths in life lead nowhere. We can either discover them ourselves, or we can ask our elders and profit by their experience. They may have marked off those paths that they found led nowhere.