I woke up this morning thinking about life’s crazy path. The journey we all take through this incarnation. The long and winding road. The road not taken. Life is a highway and we’re all always on the road again. As I was pondering these deep thoughts while awaiting the Keurig to come to life and present me with my first caffeine kick, my mind suddenly made an abrupt turn and begin humming a familiar tune. My mind does this a lot, which is not unusual considering it is a strange and largely unexplored wilderness. It’s not a place to go into alone at night, dark alley of weirdness that it is. Anyhoo, as I’m innocently waiting for the Keurig to finish its job, my head begins singing, “And you may find yourself in a beautiful house/With a beautiful wife/And you may ask yourself, well/How did I get here?” Yes, folks, my mind went from existential thoughts about how one arrives at a certain point in life and turned into a Talking Heads song. Like I said, its a wild place in my head.
Really, though, the deep thoughts and the song contain the same thought: how does one arrive in a certain place in life? We all have those forks in the road when we can take either one path or the other and our life will be completely different depending on which path we choose. Sometimes its more of a literal fork, with four tines asking us to choose among many opposing options. Sometimes it’s a knife, a gleaming object with a sharp point at the end that is pointing to we know not what, but since it has only one direction we either take it or we turn back.
We’ve all had these moments. Do I take this job or that one? Which college should I go to? Do I order the salad or the burger? If I, for instance, had chosen the other college I was considering and had not gone to St. Bonaventure, I would have missed out on meeting the person who has become my most loyal, honest, steadfast confidante, a friend I have had since freshman year when I stalked her back to her dorm because I wanted so badly to become friends with her. For thirty years we have shared a friendship I can’t imagine having with anyone else, but I wouldn’t have it if my path had been different. If I hadn’t abruptly changed careers and decided I wanted to pursue teaching, I wouldn’t have met another person who has become a dear and beloved friend. I would still be sitting in an office, drowning in my own misery. And if I hadn’t taken a job as a diner waitress to help pay my way through college and kept that job to pay my way through college debt, I never would have met Bill. And that would really have changed my path in life.
Life is just decision after decision after choice after choice. Sometimes these choices are bad. Sometimes they are good. But I guess the whole point of this life path/Talking Heads scenario is this: we simply never know. If we knew what would come out of certain choices I know for sure we would have taken another exit. I know I would have.
But there is always a way out, even if it’s only in your mind. I think of this often when my pain reaches the “my head is going to explode” level. I escape into my thoughts. I tell myself tomorrow the pain will be less intense. I convince myself that the only thing I have to do is make it to 3:30 when I can leave school, make the eight-mile journey to get to my couch, and I will feel better. Maybe not physically, but surrounded by my beloved Bill and my cat Casey and all of the things that give my comfort, I know I can make it.
After all, this is the road I chose. It may have been a long and winding one, but it certainly has become one I would not change. Not for any amount of coffee in the world. And that’s saying a lot.