Sometimes the path of life splits or, as Frost says, “the road diverges in a yellow wood.” Both paths lead to results that are good and true, but taking the left means losing the possibilities of the right. And, choosing to go right means letting go forever of the joys of the left. Wanting both, I’m frozen in a place that has neither.
Some possibilities cannot co-exist … the life of an orthopedic surgeon does not leave space for life as a dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet. I cannot be healthy, energetic and slim and at the same time experience the numbing bliss of reckless and endless eating. Nor can I live in the peaceful solitude of the mountains while simultaneously enjoying the convivial convenience of the city. The wealth of having two golden choices leaves me overwhelmed with grief for the one that must be abandoned. A rent tears through my center and I am lost in the pain.
What if I make a mistake? What if I go right and years later find that left was my true self, my true path of joy and fulfillment? What if around one corner there is unseen pain and suffering? What if I wait just a little longer hoping the decision becomes just a little clearer?
But, the path demands a decision now. Life is finite and I cannot be all things. I must choose one life, or in my indecision, live none. Whichever path I choose, one life will fall out of the bell jar. It will become my path with all of its complexities and meanderings. I will live that life and never know of the other. Yet in the wild darkness of my dreams, I wonder if the scenes I see are from that other way not taken.
This delicate dance of wanting two things that cannot co-exist at the same time is the stuff of life. It is knowing we cannot have it all that forces us to examine our choices. In every life there will be many stones left unturned. We can love and value the stones we choose or we can weep and wail about the ones left behind. Perhaps the purpose of life has little to do with which choices we make but rather with how we live and value each decision that makes up the warp and weft of our lives.