“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood,”
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
We all arrive at crossroads in our lives, points where we can – or must – choose which path to take. I have stood at crossroads like this many, many times in my life. My book, Passage of the Stork, describes the, sometimes convoluted, route my life has taken.
For better or for worse, we never know if the choice was a right one. And this is often why we take so much time making up our minds, weighing pros and cons, fearing possible outcomes. We only know, in retrospect, how we changed as a result of the choice we made.
We can know, however, what motivates us to choose the one – or the other – path. There are positive motivators, and there are negative motivators. I no longer want this, is a negative motivator. It may be a strong, dominant emotion, but it isn’t going to tell you anything about what you’re getting into.
Ask yourself, What DO I want? What is the future I wish for myself and what do I need to bring that about?”
This applies to groups – and even countries – as well as individuals. I believe that most of the people in the UK who voted Leave in the Brexit referendum were motivated by (unclear) images of what they feared. They no longer wanted to feel afraid and, therefore, believed the empty rhetoric of the leaders of the Brexit movement. One of the most tragic things I read recently is that, in the aftermath of the referendum, the second top question asked by UK residents on Google was, “What is the EU?”
The referendum leaders do not have a clear idea of the future they wish for the UK. And they’re getting more than they bargained for, as markets collapse and both Scotland and Ireland start talking about seceding.
You and I would be ill-advised to base important life-changing decisions on fears of what might happen if we stay on our current path. Having a clear vision of what we do want for ourselves, not just what we don’t want, is essential. Even if we find out later that we were wrong, and we need to change directions again, we made our choice for the right reasons.
For those wondering where my, vaguely familiar, title came from; it’s the title of a song by the British punk-rock group, The Clash.