These past few months I’ve really felt like I’m at a crossroads.
A crossroads is, by definition, a point along our path where we have to make a choice about the direction in which to go.
In terms of our lives, the only path that isn’t an option is turning back.
And so crossroads often evoke feelings of fear and uncertainty as well as a sense of excitement or eager anticipation.
Not only is there the fear for many of us, born of a dearth of self-trust, that we might somehow choose the ‘wrong’ path; a part of us also knows that any divergent path we take will launch us out of our safety zone into the vast unknown – a realm that, to our sub-conscious mind, is rife with monsters and bogeymen just waiting to jump us in the dark.
Some crossroads can be seen from far off, whilst others catch us unawares; triggered by events beyond our control.
It feels like this particular crossroads has been on my horizon for a while, waiting patiently for me to notice it. Meanwhile I’ve been plodding along with my eyes metaphorically half-closed, oblivious to its presence in my fixation on the small patch of road beneath my feet, which is all my half-lidded eyes have been able to perceive.
This road was, it’s true, a road of my own choosing; and it has been a road from which I’ve liked more of the views than not. But somewhere along the way I started to walk on auto-pilot, unconsciously putting one foot in front of the other without thinking about whether or not it was still leading me in the direction I wanted to go. And, as I confined my view to the stretch of road immediately in front of me, I inadvertently constructed tall, opaque fences either side; preventing me from seeing that alternatives did, in fact, exist.
That was before conscious living seminars and books started to grace my web browser and bookshelves, and words like ‘mindfulness’ and ‘increased self-awareness’ became a part of my days. As I became immersed in the world of self-empowerment I began to see that the ‘fences’ I had constructed were often nothing more than my own limiting beliefs, and that there were other paths, other possible ways for me to be in the world – if I could open my eyes enough to see them and summon up the courage necessary to step into them. As I challenged more and more of my beliefs and preconceptions, the fences started to fall away. And, as they did so, I started to embrace the wide horizon of possibility that came into my sphere of vision in their place.
I see now that on my journey, just as in real life, the horizon is only an illusion and the crossroads was never in the future at all – it was always right there, waiting for me. Simply choosing to look up and notice it would have brought it into my present moment reality at any time.
From this unblinkered perspective I also perceive that every moment of our lives is, in fact, a crossroads, and all it takes is the awareness of this to open ourselves up to the possibility of stepping out and choosing a different path from the one that we have been walking.
Put another way, every moment of our lives we have a choice – the choice to do something the way we have aways done it and, inevitably, get the same results; or the choice to try something different and see where we end up. The power to choose lies with us. The power to choose a different way of doing things, a different way of being, was always there inside me, latent, untapped; I just needed to wake up to the fact that I was the one who held that power.
And what happens when we wield that power and make a different choice, step out into the unknown? …Maybe we’ll end up somewhere we like better, and maybe we won’t… – there are no guarantees here. There is, after all, always some element of risk involved in walking an uncharted path.
At this point I remind myself that although we tend to place so much weight on the decisions we make about our lives, none of them are final. If we don’t like the scenery where we find ourselves, we can simply choose another path to venture down until we find some that we do.
And what is there to stop us from walking several paths at the same time and using it as an opportunity to see which one (or ones) we like best? That way we can choose to retain some of the safety of the path that we are currently on even as we explore new territories.
With the only ‘destinations’ in this lifetime the likes of increased self-knowledge, self-evolution and death, I have come to think that there are no ‘wrong paths’ as such. How can there be when any road we choose will lead us to these very same things?
I do feel it’s true to say, however, that which path(s) we choose will greatly effect the quality of our experience along the way.
Knowing this, I want to walk with my head up and my eyes open; fully conscious in each moment of the never-ending succession of crossroads stretching into my horizon… Simultaneously fully aware that the only time I can choose to embrace one of them is right here, right now.