It’s a New Year. New starts. Resolutions.Do’s. Don’ts.Decisions. Making them.Keeping them.Hoping you get it right. Let’s get this party started!
I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago. Our conversations are generally easy. Like a comfortable chat with someone you’ve known for a bit. I explained some of my growing frustrations. My friend thought I was in a “waiting room” of sorts. Yes. You know. The waiting room of life. Consider this analogy. You are waiting to see your GP/PCP. You know. The interminable wait: to see the good doc for a few minutes. When the nurse assistant appears/the monitor beeps. Everything else fades. You hold your breath. Heart rate momentarily increases. Eyes and ears strain to hear/see your name. Unconsciously, you reach for your belongings. It has to be you. No one else has waited as long, have they? If only you could get through the first door. To the next waiting room. You will be one step closer to seeing the health magician. But alas. Joe Schmo gets called. You swallow the bitter taste of disappointment. Enter reality. Maybe next time. For now, it’s back to the waiting game. The cycle of it all.
Has your life ever felt that way? As if you are stuck in reverse? You arrive at a destination. Precious time and sacrifices got you there. The plan succeeded. But now what? What’s beyond this goal? You can’t shake the feeling that something is missing. Do you long to travel? Perhaps get a new job. Enter into the relationship you finally have time for. Mend another. Declutter your life. Move away. Whatever the situation. You can’t move on until you get past this. Whatever this happens to be. For us. If you’ve been there. Or you are here. Chances are you have arrived at a Crossroad in life. What happens next will change your life. For the better. Worse. Or maybe it wont. Once we find ourselves at a Crossroad, how should we proceed? How can we be certain we are making the right decisions? Decisions that will impact you. And future generations.
As 2011 drew to a close, I looked back on the things I accomplished this past year. A sudden realisation struck me : it’s as if my life is just beginning! As such, I feel as if I am waiting for the next big adventure. The next big conquest. Before I kick it, I want to teach in Africa. Sudan is on my mind. It will take 1-2 years before this goal is realized. For now, however, I am once again face-to-face with this incurable disease of wanderlust. It’s back. Never left. I applied a small band-aid to a gushing wound when I made the decision to study in the UK. But alas as it always does, time came knocking. The band-aid has been rendered useless. As I knew it would. The wound has been reopened. No band aid will fix it this time around. It’s time to apply firm pressure, and perhaps a visit to places, situations, and relationships which will soothe my soul and provide healing. Decisions that will cause me to choose a particular fork in the road, versus another. Questions should not be turned into a bunch of jumbled up musings. Where do I go from here? I know one thing for certain. If and when I get to old age, I would rather regret the things I did do, instead of the things I did not do.
I know the typical answers. Pray. Done. Find a purpose and fight for it. Check. Develop new passions. Double-check.Yep. The whole lot. Having made up my mind on what I wanted to do, I thought my readers would like to hear another perspective. While at uni, I met a truly wonderful human being. Her name is Antje Goldner. She willingly agreed to contribute to this piece. I am grateful for her response. I am a regular reader of her blog, click on the link below to find out why.
Here is Antje’s take :
“Recently, while I was home in southern Germany, I went with my family on a walk organized by a local historian, who took us on a pretty hike and stopped at certain points along the way to give little talks on some historical events or facts connected to that area. Towards the end of the hike he stopped at a quiet little crossroad to tell us a local legend of how the people in the village nearby used to believe that the devil would manifest itself at this spot on New Year’s Eve, just at the stroke of midnight. He added that in medieval times, crossroads in general were considered unlucky and frightening. This made me think of all those legendary blues musicians from the southern states of the USA, who were said to have stayed out on an empty country crossroad over night to meet the devil, giving it their souls in exchange for the ability to play their instruments better than anyone else.
How come that crossroads are feared the same in different cultures and throughout different times? I guess it has something to do with insecurity. At a crossroad you have to make a choice and usually, you have to make it by yourself. Maybe you have to leave a well-travelled path and choose one that is only the merest outline on the ground. Or you are afraid of losing your own way by choosing one that a lot of people have gone already. Whichever way you choose, you don’t know where it will lead; you don’t know who you will meet along the way, who you will have to leave behind, how you will change by walking that road. Most importantly: you don’t know if your choice will be the right one.
I used to agonize over this. I think everyone does at some point in their lives. Some people never stop. If you are one of those people, I have a thought for you: how do you know if a direction you took was wrong or right? You will never know! You will never be able to go back and take that exact same decision at that exact same crossroad again. Even if you were able to go back to the crossroad, it would not be the same, because you would have a whole set of new experiences with you. So if you cannot know, there is no need to dither, or to agonize. Once I fully realized this, I stopped worrying about those frightening crossroads. Nowadays, I just take the one that feels or looks right at that point. It works for me. I travel lighter, and if I feel that my path is not perfect, I don’t think about going back and taking another road – I think about how I can improve the road I am on.
If you are still standing at your crossroad, unable to move on, insecure, unsure – remember that the only difference between the one road and the other is quite simply your choice. By choosing one road above another, you make it different. You make it yours. And once you are past that crossroad, don’t think about it again. Believe me, it’s not worth it. Instead, keep your energy and your attention to the path you are walking on now. Look out for the little surprises along the way – the unexpected vistas, the flowers growing in colourful clumps here and there, your fellow travellers who will make you laugh and cry. Keep your eyes open and appreciate the details and you will be surprised by what you see. And if you still find that you don’t like this path, don’t worry: there’s another crossroad coming up, right behind the next bend in the road”.
Finally, if you are struggling with where to go. What to do. How to get there. Pray about what is best for you. Act upon the promptings you will receive. Once you have made the decision. Do it. Try not to waver. Or wonder about the “what if’s” in life. They will always be there. Whether or not you succeed. Or fail. Think about the choices that have brought you to this point. There is no do over. But there are fresh starts. Millions crave the opportunities that we have. We have freedom. Health. Hope. Opportunity. You name it. You know your blessings. You are the only person standing in your way.
Until the next post,