Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The path

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.
-Rocky Horror Picture Show
I suppose life would be simpler if our paths were always clearly defined or we always knew where we were headed. But then again, we might not choose to travel the paths if we knew where they were headed.

More often than not, however, there are many paths before us. But once we set foot on one path, they merge and the only way to progress is keep moving (though human nature dictates that we worry about whether or not we chose the right path).

The cliche tells us that life is journey, not a destination. But I think a lot about the right path and whether or not I am facing many paths with one destination or many paths with many destinations. And what is that destination or destinations? It can be paralyzing at times. Because I am, by nature a wanderer and, though it seems easier to walk where others have walked, I dream about places where others haven't been.

When you are young and just starting out on the path, it seems endless. Wandering off the path didn't seem to matter. There was plenty of time. But the path gradually begins to narrow. It also becomes steeper and steeper. You find yourself locking into career choices and obligations. You buy houses and cars. Wandering off the path stops being an option. So you continue to climb.

As you approach the summit, you hope for relief. Then boom, you are headed down the slope and picking up speed. It's times like these that you start wishing you had had the brakes checked regularly, because they don't seem to be working. And I'll be damned if there isn't what appears to be a cliff within sight at the end of the path. Or is it a gate?

It seems logical that being middle aged is a time of doubts. You know where you've been. And with the realization that time is running out, you begin to wonder about the feasibility of many of those dreams and aspirations you had when you were staring at the summit. For me, it is also a time to wonder about those skills and talents that I assumed I had in my youth, but now seem less than stellar in the eyes of others.

A couple of years ago, I read a book I found in the library on a cruise ship. It was about all of these people who really didn't achieve major life accomplishments until they were in their 50s and 60s. The book talked about major scientific discoveries and career changes. So I suppose there is hope for me.

All I have to do is keep moving down the path. And maybe that is a gate at the end. But I imagine that if I open it, I'm likely just going to find another path.

Or a cubicle.
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