Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Smelling and Choosing

            I like to wake up early enough to walk through the darkened house.  My eyes appreciate the slow transition.  The street light falls through the windows and illuminates dependable patterns on the walls and the floor.  In the dim light my other senses awaken too.  I hear each room humming its own particular song – a performance piece that I am apparently part of as the soft shuffle of my rubber Crocs on the wooden floors bounces off wooden floors and sundry objects of furniture.  And this morning, I notice for the first time that each room and hallway has its own particular smell.  I’m reminded of a college roommate who insisted he could tell from smelling the skin of my arm, whether I had spent the day inside or outside.  At the time I was doubtful as I suspected he just wanted to smell my skin.  Looking back, I see it was both.
            Both – it’s usually both.  While we sometimes agonize over finding the one right answer – weighing the pros and cons of a decision, it may be that the true answer is both and either.  Like me, several years ago when I was riding my mountain bike through the beautiful New England woods.  It was about this time of year, leaves were just beginning to show orange and yellow.  The sky was clear and high.  I was riding over a new trail a friend had shown me the week before.  I remembered the trail until I came to the first fork.  I wasn’t sure whether to take the right or the left path.  After a moment, the left fork looked familiar so I headed down that path.  I was relieved to soon see familiar scenery and realize I had made the right choice.  I recall feeling a lovely little sense of pride in my intuition and in making the ‘right’ choice.  There were several more unremembered forks, but each time my intuition led me down the path that continued on.
            It was only several weeks later, after I had ridden those trails three or four more times, that I realized that the two trails at these forks BOTH merged back to the main trail and that at each fork, either trail would do.  My real success was not guessing the correct trail, but rather taking any trail.  Both were the right trail. 
Now, of course there are forks in our lives where the two trails apparently lead to spectacularly different places.  There are alternatives we are faced with that pose choices of radically different futures.  But more and more I suspect that there is no one choice that is correct – that both futures – that the myriad choices all lead to our life.  The most important thing is the choosing.  The choosing allows us to move forward and to learn and grow and become ourselves.

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