The most difficult hurdle I hopped in bringing this blog to life, was choosing a proper name, one that accurately reflected the nonsense bouncing around upstairs. It was like naming a child, or in more realistic tosh-terms, a pet; a forever thing. After weeks of dead-end ideas, I couldn’t shake Mr. Frost and his extremely popular, if not terribly over quoted poem, “The Road Not Taken,” out of my head. Because no amount of overuse, misuse or abuse could make these words any less great:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I read the poem again and again, set aside any deep life meaning, and thought in simple terms of my own reaction to encountering a literal fork in the road. I have a weird thing for signs, particularly road signs, especially ones that include arrows informing me of my appropriate directional options. While I am curious about what lies ahead on roads I don’t take, I find myself even more curious about the roads that aren’t even there, the ones to which no arrows point, the hidden path directly behind the sign. Because when I come to a fork in the road, I always feel the urge to plunge right down the middle, to plow through and create my own path, to take the other fork in the road, the one that doesn’t even exist yet. Bringing the metaphorical meaning back into things, turns out, I feel that way about Life Forks too.
I think I figured out why my life sort of resembles the result of giving a two-year-old a crayon and a piece of paper for the first time. It all goes back to those Choose Your Own Adventure books I enjoyed as a kid. And I read a lot of them. But I didn’t exactly read them as they were intended. A book in which some pages didn’t get read just because you didn’t choose that adventure was not something I could grasp. So, I am just supposed to skip around this book, without ever knowing what happens on pages 32-38? Not possible. I read all pages of every book, always, and CYOAs were no different. I did not want to miss a thing.
Not only did I choose my own adventure, I chose ALL of the adventures. When I came to my first adventure-altering choice, first, just like you are supposed to do, I would review my options and choose the one I thought I wanted. The one that sounded most promising, most exciting. Then I would read through how all of the other options played out, sometimes even peeking ahead to the next choices within each choice, saving my chosen adventure for last. If I happened to get eaten by a bear or trampled by a horse, run over by a car, fall off a cliff, or encounter some other painful death or freak accident, no problem. I simply told myself, “Soooo, actually…I wanted option two, like, all along. I was just checking out option three.” And I lived happily ever after. Every time. Not only did I live, I got to experience all of the adventures and choose the best one, armed with the knowledge of how the other adventures ended, secure with the fact that this adventure, the one I so carefully selected, was the right one for me. The best adventure.
Unfortunately, that isn’t exactly how life works, though you wouldn’t know it by the way I seem to be living my life in scribbles, taking unexpected sharp left turns, loop-de-loops, zigzags, jagged ups and downs, some intense pockets of color here, almost nothing over there. My inner two-year-old going nuts with emotional scribbles. I don’t know. Maybe it is time to give that two-year-old a different colored crayon, and really shake things up. Stating the obvious here, I only have this one life. I can’t choose to be married and choose to be single. I can’t live out my life with three different potential life partners, then go back and pick the one that ends up the best, the one that makes me smile the most. I can’t choose a life with children and a life without. I can’t choose all fifty different career paths that legitimately flash across my mind on any given day. There is no, nah I’m just playing, I actually wanted that other adventure, like, all along. There is no turning back pages in the book of life, no peeking ahead.
Even with regular books without choices, I often turn to the last page to get an idea of what I am in for over the next 300 pages. I speed-read, looking for a hint, any clues to the adventure I am about to experience. That’s probably why I believe I would be perfectly content with today’s choices if I could just live one day, maybe 20 years in the future, giving me some sort of idea which adventures to choose, or maybe more importantly, which adventures NOT to choose.
Because I can’t choose all of the adventures.
And it’s driving me crazy.