“Two roads diverged in a wood and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
Recently, while on my morning run, a lady passed me coming the opposite direction. We exchanged pleasantries as runners often do. I gave it little thought, due to the fact that many people in our neighborhood walk or run every morning. Actually, I would have been more surprised to not be passed by at least one other walker or runner. But I was surprised by what happened next.
The woman fell. Hard.
I heard the scrape of rubber sole on cement, a slight scream, and turned to see her attempting to stand, then turning and sitting down. I rushed to her side and asked, “Are you ok?” She was dazed, but coherent and replied, “No.” She asked, “Am I bleeding?” I said, “You have a slight cut on the bridge of your nose and a scrape on your forehead, but I don’t see anything else.”
Fortunately, a neighbor just so happened to be getting into his truck to go to work, and so after a few moments of consoling, he and I helped her to her feet. We asked if there was anything we could do to help her. She replied, “No. I’m just going to walk the rest of the way.” She then pointed to the ground and said, “I didn’t even see that dip in the sidewalk. I usually run the other direction.”
Rewind the tape.
I did not know this person, but as a runner, I can imagine her routine. She got up, dressed, put on her running shoes, walked out the door, and at some point in her thought process made the decision, “I think I’ll take a different route today.” The result was a rather hard fall, but even though she will bear a few scars and bruises for a day or two, she will run again. She may even fall again. But my hunch is—it won’t happen in the same spot.
Often, it is so easy to take the same road day after day. Many of us prefer safety and security to unpredictability and surprise. There’s nothing wrong with safety and security, but if those perpetually remain our default positions, do we risk not living while we live?
I’m not suggesting that you radically alter your entire existence, but I do think it important to pause on occasion, examine those aspects of your life that you are tolerating versus loving, and create a future that you can run toward versus a past that you are trying to escape. To do this, you must walk a different path.
You may trip up a time or two, but you probably won’t trip in the same place twice.
No one ever said the road less traveled was easy. But if the road you’re on is paralyzing your potential, then perhaps it is time to try another route.