(Alternatively titled: “Would You Like a Little W(h)ine with Your Cheese?” I apologize for the navel-gazing, but I’m running up against some deadlines, and I haven’t had time to formulate any reading-content posts.)
I’m sure there were many times throughout my childhood when my parents sought to disabuse me of the notion that being an adult was fun (In fact I know they did, but as a kid I knew everything so I didn’t really listen to them). My parents were always very conscientious about making sure that I was given the right to make a “choice,” but really, the choices seemed so limited (continue with ballet or quit? hot fudge sundae or mint chocolate chip ice cream?), and I was always anxious for the future, which my childish imagination supposed would be something akin to the perfect autumn day: all golden leaves, crisp air, and a sense of freedom.
Yeah. Then I grew up.
Or, I should say, I became older and increasingly conscious of what it really means to be an adult. Bills. Responsibilities. Freedom and choice exist, but so does the darker underbelly of those golden words: regret.
I cannot remember a time when I haven’t felt the burden of regret. At the ripe young age of 31 I feel like so many of my decisions have led me down paths I didn’t want to go down, and recently, I’ve almost crippled myself with guilt (I was raised Catholic, you know) for the choices I have made. The result is that I’m either anxiously backpedaling or trying to jump into an idealized future. The end has been my focus for so long, that I almost can’t remember what it’s like to pay attention to the journey. Very rarely do I sit still long enough to enjoy living in the present.
This past weekend Apparent Dip went on a day-long field trip, leaving me to spend the day by myself with my endlessly whirring thoughts and cats (dangerous combination, I know). The result, however, was the not-so-brilliant epiphany that I am tired. I’m tired of running back and forth, jumping from plan to plan. I need to just “be.” To allow myself to be happy with where I’m at in the present, to stop regretting, and to let go. And letting go? Not so easy for control freaks like myself. However, I think I’ve come to a point when I have to realize that I have done all I can…and I need to let go. I need to realize that those roads that I abandoned mid-way, or ignored altogether may have been better roads…or they may have been dark and choked with brambles. I can’t know anymore, and what’s more, I don’t want to know, because it’s time to pay attention to the road that I’m actually on, the one that allows me to live in the same city as my husband, that has given me the chance to take courses that are challenging, that makes it possible for me to see family and friends a bit more often. This road may be a bit uncomfortable at times, but really, what road doesn’t have its share of potholes?
The Road Not Taken (1915) by Robert Frost Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth. Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same. And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.