On a crisp fall day, I meander through a composite of the neighborhoods in Ohio, upstate New York, and Southern California where I’ve lived. From stucco with red tile roof to Tudor and Victorian, houses nestle beneath trees on grassy lawns along quiet streets. After a long, leisurely walk, I realize that don’t know which road to take to get home. I stand at an intersection of streets I don’t recognize, and see that, whichever direction I go, there are still more decisions to be made just ahead.
Completely lost, I’m perplexed as to how I reached this particular corner and where my home is. This is definitely my neighborhood and feels familiar, but I don’t recognize any street signs. I’m in the right general area, but don’t know which way to go.
Every street looks inviting, but only a few will take me where I want to be. Turn right, left, or go straight ahead–how shall I know? If I take the wrong road, I’ll be even more lost and really tired by the time I reach my destination. I want to make the right decision and neither amble aimlessly nor waste my time and energy. Where is home?
I awaken and lie in bed, gradually coming to consciousness from this final dream of the night. “That dream captures my state of mind right now,” I realize. “My life feels like it’s in familiar territory, a composite of everywhere I’ve been, but I don’t know what direction to go, and I can’t even can’t see that destination from here.”
Last summer, I was hopeful that I could write my blog, do some other writing projects, volunteer in the community, re-engage in the world. But the residue of a summer cold lingered and my efforts to walk these new roads lost their steam. Where is home? Which roads will get me there and how long will it take?
This isn’t the first crossroad at which I’ve stood, nor will it be the last. Our days are filled with decisions, small and large. When we make one choice, another is just ahead. Decisions about employment, relationships, medical procedures, where to live, how to use our energy and talents–all of these are crossroads. So, too, are decisions about whether to live with pessimism or hope, whether to approach life with with bitterness or courage, and whether and how to face a conflict we’d rather avoid,. Our choices at crossroads don’t just affect the details of our living, they can affect the quality and character of our life, too.
A crossroad is an opportunity to choose which direction we want to go, what we want to do, and who we want to become. Sometimes we’re not sure how we reached a particular intersection, and sometimes we don’t like the choices in front of us. We can’t see around all the bends and turns ahead to know exactly where our choices will lead us. But each crossroad is still an opportunity to decide how we’ll travel the next part of our journey.
So, go ahead. Turn left, right, turn around, or keep going as you were. When you change your mind or have a new insight that beckons you in a new direction, don’t worry–there’s another crossroad just ahead. I’ve caught my breath and started down the street again. At least for now, I’m willing to live in the truth of Nelle Morton’s words, “the journey is home.”