I do some of my deepest thinking when I’m walking or jogging outside by myself. And lucky for you, we had some uncharacteristically warm weather yesterday that allowed me just such an opportunity.
I jogged/walked my usual path into the wooded part of my subdivision. When I got to the end of the paved path, where I usually make my kids stop and turn around, I felt compelled to keep jogging.
As I continued down the very narrow dirt path through the trees, some part of me felt like I was breaking a rule and wasn’t sure why I didn’t just do what I always did and stay on the pavement. After some time I was surprised to see the trees part into another open area with more paved sidewalk. At this point I had no idea where I was, but was pretty excited to be exploring by myself, so I kept jogging. Soon after, I saw a male jogger up ahead and not wanting to put myself in a bad situation decided to turn around and return the way I’d come.
Within just a couple minutes of backtracking I came to a fork in the path that gave me 3 directional choices. How had I not realized that I’d passed through a fork in the road? I chose the furthest left but very quickly came to the dry riverbed of the creek and knew that was not the way I came. So I went back and now had 2 choices left. I chose the middle one for no reason other than I had to choose one and they both looked exactly the same.
This whole process, from going off the path to choosing what ended up being the correct path home, took no longer than 5 minutes. But it felt like forever and I felt really stupid for having chosen to go down a path that I really wasn’t sure about.
Once I was sure of where I was and heading home in the right direction, my deep thinking kicked in. Why had I been so anxious to try something unfamiliar when no one would have known where I decided to go? The walk home had me thinking that I was just bored with life and wanted to do something exciting, possibly even dangerous (it wasn’t dangerous, but to a house wife/mom it was extraordinarily brave of me to veer off my usual course).
But I realized that I wanted to push myself for the same reason I make things more dramatic than they need to be, the same reason I chose to major in art when I hadn’t even picked up a paint brush since I was 8, the reason I always feel such a strong need to be teaching dance, the reason I hear a song and think “I can recreate that!”, the reason I have 4 children and still have a desire for more…
I have an innate need to be part of things. And not only PART of the world, but CREATING it and IMPROVING it. Somehow my ego thinks this is possible and actually necessary or the world just simply won’t go round. When I got to that dirt path and decided to just forge ahead it was like I was doing something no one else ever did (at least that’s how it felt even though I’m sure its not true). I needed to prove something, that I was better today than the last time I went on this run. But then I was also very humbled when I turned around and had no idea if I was lost.
Its really difficult for me to feel just mediocre. I tell myself I am destined for greatness and need to be the best at everything I do. There’s a lot of pressure that I put on myself to be this person every. single. day. Even when I try to GIVE MYSELF A BREAK by taking a walk (or starting a blog) I still feel like it needs to be the BEST walk of my life, or the absolute most inspiring blog post ever written!
So did I succeed?
Twenty-two years ago I had to choose a poem to memorize. I’m pretty sure most 8 year olds chose Dr. Suess or Shel Silverstein, but I chose Robert Frost. And to this day, it is my favorite poem. My daughter even asks me tell her the “Two Roads” story at bedtime and then wants to talk about what it means. I tell her that it means that we always have choices to make, and sometimes the right one is the one nobody else chooses. For me I think it means that I always want to be the first and only one that can take both paths successfully, and that maybe if I choose one and leave some bread crumbs I can return and try out the other. What does it mean to you?
The Road Not Taken
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,
though 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.