Thursday, December 22, 2005

less travailed

One of the hardest things is life is dealing with a major change. Not the kind you get after a cash purchase (though many have issues with that kind of change too), I’m talking about when your world turns upside down and you find yourself standing on the ceiling, wondering what the hell just happened to gravity, and whether Einstein was a genius or a quack.

Major change is hard to handle well. And it’s scary. But why is major change so threatening? Why does our stomach revolt, our hands sweat, our minds want to hind in a dark warm hole? . . .

Okay, those are my reactions. Yours may be somewhat different.

Maybe the answer lies in our programming by society, the urge to remain comfortable, and the fear that what a major change will bring is much worse than the current status quo. I think all of the above apply and maybe a few more I’ve missed.

And even more frightening than undergoing a major change – undergoing a major change of your own volition. Leaving your comfort zone, sailing into uncharted waters – using clichés to talk about a cliché . . .

Why am I rambling about major changes today? Well, two reasons. It would appear that within a couple of years or less, outside influences will force a major change in my life. And, during the same timeframe, I will be trying to enforce, upon myself, a major life change. Serendipity or Stupidity – I’m not completely sure and that bothers me.

You see I’m trained as an Engineer, but my inner self is not. I’m a shell performing a function which does not apply, while my inner being hibernates peeking from inside the shell once in a while to see if it’s safe to come outside. But the road I’m on is not kind to that inner being and so it waits, pulling strings, inserting thoughts, but delineated to a lesser role in the play being performed. But it has waited long enough, and is starting to demand attention and breaking the shell of the Engineer piece by little piece.

So, with my mind seeking shelter, my stomach practicing dismounts and my corporeal body looking to curl up on the couch – I need to rise above, grab destiny by the horns (I could have used another word here, but I don’t want to tempt destiny just yet.) and fulfill what it is I am supposed to be, what my inner being has been telling me for years.

I am a writer.

This is nothing new. I’ve known it for about twenty years. And what have I done about it? Not enough. Not nearly enough. You see there is this comfort zone I’m in with a steady job, a wife, child, and a decent house – all beautiful excuses to keep things just as they are. Aren’t you convinced? I’ve sure convinced myself the last decade and a half.

But, beating myself up over past choices does absolutely no good. And, in fairness, it hasn’t been all bad. Each moment of life is an experience, some good some bad but all worthy. But, I know if I listen to my inner being, it can be a lot better. And it should be.

2006 need not be another year of the same old. I’m better than that by far. I am quickly approaching that crossroads in my life (yah, you can laugh and call it mid-life crises if you want), that crossroads where I see two distinct paths.

One, a path I know, is level, paved and even. There is solid dull white on either side and the path goes ever on to oblivion. The overcast sky makes the pavement look surreal, though no less solid. It’s easy to walk upon and the traffic, though heavy, all moves in the same methodical direction. It’s a safe road, one I know well. One I can walk it in my sleep even. But something is missing. There are no turns, no hills, no challenges, no real color, and no significant rewards. It is the path of obscurity. It’s crowded, humid and I want off. Is that an exit I see up ahead . . .?

Another road leads immediately uphill into a dense tree-lined woodland. Actually this path is more of an animal trail, which will need clearing to traverse, and the effort will likely ruin my only pair of shoes and destroy my clothes. The sun shines somewhere overhead, but is obscured by long tendrils of moss trailing from overhead branches. It’s an enchanted forest, but does it house dangers or wonders? How will I know which is which? I can’t tell and won’t know until I enter. Making this path into a viable road will be a gargantuan task. Am I worthy to try? I know that somewhere in this dense unknown is a hilltop I can reach – a hilltop where I can see all around me for miles in bright sunshine. In the distance, I will be able to see the path I have left, a distant grey line like a pencil scratch on white paper.

The exit is approaching fast. My time to choose grows near. If I miss this exit, when will another of my own choosing come along?

Will I keep to the well trodden road . . .

. . . or take the path less travailed?

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