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Roads Less Taken and the Paths that Lead to Them

Posted Apr 04 2012 12:00am

This morning, I was thinking about the path that I am on.

It's a vastly divergent path from the one I planned, way back in high school.

It's a TOTALLY different path than the one I was on when I had my son, almost TWENTY years ago.

It's even very different from the path I envisioned, five years ago.

In my mind, the paths that each of us are one are not visible. I see myself walking through a completely dark area. My foot is lifted to step forward, and the only area I can see if the area in which my foot is slated to be planted. The area behind me is lit up, but ahead is completely black.

It is scary to head off into a dark area.

I know that sometimes, paths cross. Often, we think we know where we are going, which direction our path will lead us - and that path never appears. Instead, we are forced to divert. To detour, to circle around sometimes, spinning our wheels aimlessly until, suddenly, a separate, unnoticed path opens and we head off into a totally opposite direction.

Never mind that the new direction is 180 degrees from where we'd planned to head.

And occasionally, our paths merge, and we walk along together for a little while. Until, suddenly, your path drops from mine and we again travel alone.

It would be so awesome, I think, to hover above the paths. To see where a person has come from, to see where they will end, and to see what they will encounter. To learn what has shaped them into the person that they are and caused them to chose this specific path. It would make for more empathy in our relationships.

Each and every time that my path has changed from my plan, I was upset - but looking back at the well lit area from which I've come, it was the right choice.

When I was four, my mom tells me that I planned to either be a nun or a gogo dancer. Talk about wildly different paths.

When I was 14, I planned to be a professional ballet dancer. It was a hard wake up for me to realize that I may have had the talent, and was told I definitely had the drive, but in no way did I have the correct body type. Plan again. Maybe rethink the gogo dancer path.

When I was in high school, I knew just exactly who I'd marry. We'd have two kids and travel. Whoops. I don't especially have a travel gene, although I do want to see Scotland, Ireland and Greece.

When I was in college, I planned to be single for a long while and become a chef. Then I switched majors from culinary arts to history, and then again to English. Then I ran out of money, got a job and met a man - and married. Time for a directional shift.

When I had one child, I planned for just one more. Best laid plans, and all that. Step a different direction.

When I had four kids in 7 years, I thought that was it. I reenrolled in college, planned to take some math courses, finish my degree, and become a teacher. I gave up.( Part of that may have been when someone laughed at me for this plan. Never laugh at another persons plan. You have no idea. None.)

Five years ago, I thought I'd become a personal trainer. I'd lost a lot of weight, and wanted to help other women do the same. I was on fire to help. I realized, though, that lots of people want to talk about losing weight. Not so many people really want to do it. I gave up.

Three years ago, I was certain I'd sell a book. That book is now in the trash can. I have two others mostly completed. They reside on my hard drive. Not in a book store.

Are you where you thought you'd be? Twenty, ten, five years ago? Yesterday? Have you learned anything on your path?

Now? I have no idea what path I'm on. That's the beauty of unlit paths. You don't have to know where you are going. You know where you've been, and those locations guide your feet and your soul.

Sometimes, you step shakily, stretching your toes out in front, feeling for a roadblock or abysss. 

Sometimes the strides are bold and solid.

Because the path is unlit, you can make your own.

I have no idea what I'm doing either.

photo credit: Brenda Starr

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