There used to be, and may still be, a series of young reader books called the “Which Way” series. The brilliant idea of it all was to take an adventure story to a point of decision, at which point, the reader would choose the next step from a short list of possibilities. What you’d decide then shaped the story from there–you’d “turn to page 37,” or whatever, and see the consequences of your selection. Of course, since these were kids’ books, after all, and intended for fun, none of those choices were going to lead anywhere too dire. You weren’t going to turn the page to find a convertible plunging into the Grand Canyon.
Well, no surprise, it turns out that life is a which way proposition, without the option of flipping the pages back if you don’t like the outcome. We face those choices, big and small everyday, with the sure knowledge that what we choose can lead to paradise or disaster. Or a little bit of both. And, just to make things even more interesting, the road even to paradise will likely as not rival Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride for twists, turns, spills and thrills. Yipee.
If you’re like me, and I hope you are not, you face the which way moments with dread. I admit without a trace of pride, that I have been known often to freeze in the clutch. Faced with a possibility that might lead to a very good outcome–but might also end in flaming wreckage–I have done the only thing I could think of.
Sure, I haven’t gained much, but, I rationalize, I haven’t lost much either. But I’m dead wrong. I’ve ceded the rewards that could have been mine. I’ve given up a lot of happiness. Let way too many good things slip away. Life is not for the timid, the way forward is a perilous road, but the safe route leads only to a blank wall. What’s waiting for us, be it glory or tragedy, has to be risked if we’re ever to live fully. Happiness is not the payday for a safe trip through life.
Now, as down on me as I can be, I also know that I have taken plenty of real chances, have achieved, have found some small bits of glory. But I am haunted by the things that I wasn’t brave, or smart, or foolhardy enough to try for. I look back and wonder what might have been the reward if I’d zigged instead of zagging here or there. I’m sure everyone goes there, I know I’m not alone. We all have those moments of pondering what might have been if we had chosen wisely when the road diverged in the wood. Who hasn’t found themselves at the end of the less traveled way, wondering if maybe we should have taken a right turn at Albuquerque after all.
Well, once the dice are rolled, once the path is traversed, we can’t replay it–but we’re not necessarily at the end either. There are, I’m starting to see, other roads and other choices always still available. Thing is, we have to actually get moving to see where those will lead. Life, I think, is not a journey, but rather a series of journeys, and the traveling is only over if you stop moving.
All of this springs to mind as I ponder why I’ve been silent here at the blog for a bit. Like a carnival ride, the world keeps spinning whether we’re ready for it or not. Unlike a carnival ride, I pray that the hand on the brake has all of its digits, but I digress. Anyway, in the past couple of weeks, my road has veered into rough country a bit; over hills, through some brambles, and quite a stretch of broken pavement. What can I say, for a lot of us, sometimes it’s a dark ride.
During that time, I’m afraid I misplaced my focus a bit, froze up some, and struggled a little too. Not unique to my life, and by no means my whole story, it’s just some bumps along the way. It happens, it will happen, and I will keep moving. The road continues on, and I’ll get past the rough stuff. Hell, I have to, or I lose even more ground.
I’m rededicating my self to keeping The Confessions more on track from here out. I”ll keep going and keep reporting back from the journey. Hopefully you’ll want to see how things go. I know I do–but I may be a bit more into it.
As Paul McCartney and the Beatles remind us, it’s a long and winding road…but hopefully it leads somewhere good. Not traveling it is really no choice at all.
Stand still and you’ll never know which way things turn out.