Feb 25 2010

The Road Not Taken

Category: freedomamuzikman @ 9:00 am

I have been thinking a lot about the future lately.  In some respects my future now is perhaps more uncertain than it’s ever been.  While pondering the imponderables of what tomorrow may hold, lately I find myself frequently recalling a scene from a Tom Hanks film.  “Cast Away” was made in 2000, and stars Hanks as a man who survives a plane crash only to be stranded alone on a desert island for two years.

The scene I keep thinking about is at the very end of the movie.  Hanks, starting his life over after being rescued, is standing in the middle of an intersection of two country roads somewhere in a very rural part of Texas.  He looks in each direction, his eye following the roads as far as he can see, as he contemplates his future.  He is at a point in his life where he can literally just get in his car and drive in any direction he chooses for as long as he chooses.

I often take my dog for a walk late at night.  Sometimes she and I stop in the middle of an intersection near my home as we return from our walk.  Like Hanks’character in the movie I look in all four directions and try to imagine what it would be like to have the freedom to choose to travel in any direction.  It’s been a very long time since I had that kind of freedom.  For I cannot take any road I choose.  I must take the road that leads to home, to family, and to the life I lead.

I am not complaining.  I am very blessed.  But with age comes family, career, and a host of responsibilities.  And with age comes a life that in some ways offers fewer choices, or… perhaps it’s better to say it is a life made up of consequences from choices past – mostly good, some not so good  – that lead to other choices.

In my job as a teacher I am surrounded daily by very bright, happy, and generally motivated young college students who have their entire lives ahead of them.  As they approach graduation they are nearing an intersection in their own lives.  How thrilling it is for them to be able to travel down any road they like, for as long as they like. I’ll admit a little part of me is jealous. OK, sometimes maybe more than a little.  For I cannot just take any road as they can – most of my choosing time is behind me.  (I think I’m starting to understand the concept of mid-life crisis…)

Young people, enjoy the intersections in your lives.  Yeah, they are scary at first.  But each one is a great adventure, and they get fewer and further apart as you go on down the road.

Ah, that Robert Frost – he was on to something!