I am sure many of you are familiar with Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken“. I love the steady pace of the poem, like the words themselves are taking a stroll through golden woods. It has a comforting tone that is nostalgic but not, in my mind at least, particularly regretful. I bring it up because today I feel that I stand before two diverging paths.
For a long time we – that is my family and I – have been straining under the commitments of life. The constant demands of work, school, specialist appointments, after-school activities and all that goes along with family life in suburbia. We get to the end of the day with just enough energy to fall into a lounge chair and stare blankly at the television. We do little more than what we have to with the kids. We are content, but not particularly happy.
Is that a strange thing to say? Content but not happy. I always thought that they were the same thing, but I am beginning to realise they are not.
Anyway, things are happening in our lives and it appears we might soon have some big decisions to make. I am being purposefully vague, mostly because nothing yet has been set in stone, but also because I am somewhat worried that saying it out loud might jinx things. I can be superstitious like that.
So here I am, standing before two paths. One is well trod, safe, but up-hill. The other is overgrown and bends away so I cannot see where it leads. The first is the path we are already set upon, while the other offers something different, out of the ordinary but ultimately unknowable until we start upon it. Now there is research to complete, conversations to have and decisions to be made. I don’t feel that either path is better or worse than the other, though they will lead us to very different destinations.
Choosing which path to take is one of those “BIG LIFE MOMENTS”. We can choose to continue to do what are have always done and hope that the small changes we can make will help move the needle from “content” to “happy”. It is a safe path, unthreatening, if you ignore the fact that I am terrified of spending another decade feeling exhausted and uninspired at the end of every day. If we choose to take the path less travelled then we risk the safety that we currently enjoy and start to move towards something completely foreign to us. There is risk involved but also opportunities to really swing that metaphoric gauge from “content” to “happy”.
So, here we stand, where two roads diverge. Have you ever had to make a big decision that you knew would change your family’s life? What was it? How did it turn out? I would really love to hear your story – perhaps it will help me decide how mine turns out!