The Path Not Taken
For the last few days, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack of the musical “If/Then” in my car. It’s a show about the different paths a person can take, and the way life can change in an instant based on a choice or decision. I’ve been thinking a lot about choices lately, and paths not taken, and wondering how I ended up here, on this day, in this place, with this life.
I wonder if it’s really true that there’s a path laid out for me, and each step I take is the one I’m meant to take. I wonder if I’m making good decisions or bad ones. I wonder if I’m really listening to a power greater than myself or if I’m simply speed walking through life with my head down, trying to get through it as quickly as possible.
If I’m being completely honest with myself…I’m speed walking with my head down. It feels safer that way. I won’t piss anyone off or call attention to myself. I’ll be okay. Life’s not so scary.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received about living in the terror of the unknown is this: just do the next thing. It is advice I’ve heeded many times over the last year, and often share with others. It’s so simple, and yet so challenging when my thoughts and feelings are swirling around my head and I feel overwhelmed by it all. Emotional multitasking, combined with avoidance, was my behavior cocktail for so long that it’s incredibly difficult to distill my life down to a single action, even one that enables me to move ever so slightly forward.
I’m moving through a time of tremendous change right now. I miss the days when everything seemed as simple as good or bad; yes or no; right or wrong. The nuances of every moment are challenging when I want to know which side I’m supposed to be on; it feels easier, somehow, to let what everyone else thinks or wants or needs to dictate my next step.
All of these thoughts are entwined with my deeply rooted belief that I am not worthy of anything good in my life, and that changes everything. It changes how I see my life: as a path, or simply random. It changes what I believe about faith and a higher power and letting go of control. It changes whether I can believe in possibilities, or if I believe that life is like a big game of universal “Whack-a-Mole,” which means I should keep my head down and try to avoid the giant hammer at all costs.
But my inherent belief that I am unworthy limits me. It limits my life to a tiny patch of grass, fenced in on all sides, on which to build my life. I want more than that. I want the freedom of the whole world as I make choices about my life. I want acres of grass ahead of me as I take the next step.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But I always come back to the same question: how in the hell do I do that?
I don’t know for sure, but I know what I might do.
I might let go of the belief that I can’t be in a healthy, loving relationship with someone because I’ll always screw it up.
I might say “thank you” for the gift of love in my life.
I might consider the possibility that I’m not the worst person that ever lived.
I might sit down on my brand new meditation cushion for five minutes in silence.
I might believe for a moment or two that I’m closer to living my truth than I used to be.
I might believe that, as a wise friend once told me, “the universe is a friendly place.”
I might be willing to consider the possibility that everything that has happened has been for my good, not to make me suffer because I am unworthy of joy and happiness.
I think I’m going to have to choose to believe that I am worthy. I think I’m going to have to choose it over and over and over again. I’m going to have to choose it even on the days when it seems nothing will ever be okay again, that I believe I might have made the wrong decision.
Choosing to believe in my inherent worth means I’m walking my path.