I learned that sometimes a life journey can take you to a place that is not on any map.      – Cold Fever (movie)

Do You Need to Find a New Fork in the Road?

My wife and I recently availed ourselves of the All-American “Spring Break” tradition.” While this term may evoke images of college types on beaches playing volleyball, “breakers“ can come in all ages, shapes, and sizes.   During our vacation, we encountered a very congenial and intelligent woman who fell somewhere within our demographic. Let’s call her “Margo.”

As is quite common under such relaxed circumstances, our mutual free time allowed me to learn much about Margo’s life. She explained that she had been a widow for many years, that her husband had suffered from a long-term medical condition that eventually took his life at an early age, and that she had faced other challenges during her marital years.

Certainly, there was nothing terribly unusual about her narrative, other than she seemed to have experienced more than her fair share of life’s difficulties and stressors. What was impressive about Margo was her overall demeanor and attitude. Margo was grateful for having two fine daughters, thankful that she could still participate actively in her passion, music, and pleased that she was able to travel and enjoy the companionship of her friends.

Margo hit the Snowman’s “hot button” with the remark, “I decided a long time ago that I could choose to be miserable or choose to be grateful for what I have and what I can still do.” Later in our trip, while reading a novel written by Frederick Backman, I was struck by this line: “A time comes for every man (person) when he decides what sort of man he wants to be. Margo’s words resonated with me as I read that line from A Man Called Ove .

Many of you are familiar with my metaphor of the “snowman.” It postulates that all behavior, indeed, the course of our life, is dictated by our operative beliefs. But both the Backman quote and Margo’s observation put an additional slant on the Snowman’s premise. They suggested that there is a specific crossroads, a turning point, when each of us makes a crucial decision to pursue a specific life course.

This is the essence of Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” or my simple metaphor about holes and donuts. (See the February newsletter entitled, “Donuts and Trains.”)   All are expressing the same concept. But the exciting part is that we get to choose our paths. Most of us have probably made wrong turns in life that led to roadblocks and dead ends. Backtracking, we can once again come to that life-defining fork in the road.

As you consider your life’s journey and the critical decisions made in the past, allow yourself to feel good about the noble or honest or kind choices you’ve made. And if your recollections about those decisions do not yield smiles on your face, recognize your ability to choose a different course of action today.

Pretty exciting and encouraging, isn’t it?

As Robert Frost tells us:

         Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

          I took the one less traveled,

         And that has made all the difference.

There are plenty of obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them. – Ralph Marston