Sooner or later, we all find ourselves at a crossroads along various points in our journey through Life. I know I certainly have, and surely you have (or will), too.
Literally, a crossroads is an intersection of two or more roads. Metaphorically, it represents a point in your life path where you need to make some kind of serious, life-altering decision. I’m talking about the kind of decision where, if you go down a certain path, your life can be seriously changed from what it was before, whether it be for (so-called) better or for worse. Do you continue along your current path? Or do you veer down one of the untraveled roads?
These types of decisions usually involve deciding whether or not to follow a certain career, marry, move to a new city, buy a particular house, have a child (or children), divorce, etcetera. These are commonly known as The Big Life Decisions.
I’ve made a number of these types of decisions thus far in my life, although you might not think I have based on where I am right now — I do not own a house, I am not married (nor ever have been), and I do not have kids.
In this blog post, I share some of the stories behind some of The Roads Not Taken which have ultimately led to my present coordinates in my ongoing Creative Journey through Life.
The Career I Didn’t Choose
Ever since I was very young, I’ve struggled with the idea of having to choose just one career path. When you’re young, you’re conditioned to believe that you have to pick one career, and then stick with it for life.
This is HUGE. Ultimately, choosing and deciding upon a career path alone might be the most influential decision of your entire life. This single decision would shape your thoughts and actions for decades to come — probably even more so than marrying or having kids. How is anyone supposed to make such a huge decision, let alone a teen or a young adult?
There were many careers I considered at various points in my youth, teens, and early twenties:
- Fiction Author
- Music Composer
- Orchestra Conductor
- Professional Pianist
- Opera Singer
- Advertising / Marketing Agent
- Real Estate Agent
- Particle / Research Physicist
- Artistic Director of a well respected Theatre Company
- Theatrical Sets, Lighting and Costume Designer
- Stage Manager
- Actress / Performer
I ultimately chose the career path of independent theatre artist. This combines many skills, such as writing, performing, directing, designing, and producing. Although I may have chosen an “impractical” and “difficult” path, I must say, I love it.
I find the work I create for myself to be incredibly fulfilling, especially when I receive feedback from audience members who have been profoundly moved by my work. But even so, I still wonder from time to time what my life might be like had I chosen a different career path. And sometimes I even consider the possibility of going back to school to study something else completely different.
The Man I Never Married
The short version is this: Once upon a time, I loved a man very much and we were engaged to be married. Then, we grew in different directions, changed, and decided it best to break up. That relationship ended — or, instead of saying that relationship “ended”, perhaps instead I should say that relationship underwent a major transformation — in the earlier half of 2002.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had I decided to marry my first love. But alas, that is not the path I chose to take.
And even though we broke up in the earlier half of 2002, I’m very glad to say we’re still friends even to this day. In fact, we met up with each other quite recently and spent about six hours just talking, catching up, and enjoying each other’s company. He’s really happy with the direction his life is currently heading, and I’m honestly thrilled to hear that — I’m feel genuine happiness for him. It’s amazing to realize that we’ve known each other for over twenty years now.
As a result, I’ve had the opportunity to experience deep, connected, and growth-oriented relationships with a number of men. I’m ecstatically happy with with the connection I share with Steve in our current relationship. Even so, sometimes I wonder what my life might have been like had I married the man I was initially engaged to in my early twenties. But considering where my life is now, I must say I’m beyond happy with my relationship life and certainly have no regrets. <3
The Home I Lost
My first love and I bought a condo together around the 5-year mark of our relationship. We had gotten engaged at roughly the same time, too.
It was a nice little condo. Not very big, but not too tiny. It had two bedrooms, 1 bathroom, an L-shaped living room / dining room area, a decent kitchen with lots of cupboard space, and a small laundry room with a brand new washer and dryer that we bought ourselves. There was also a parking spot right by our private entrance.
When we broke up, I remember he wanted to keep the condo. I didn’t feel right about that for some reason. At the time my thinking was that since it was “our” home, and if it would no longer be “our” home, I felt it should no longer belong to either of us. We sold it and made a very small profit on the sale of the condo. But had we stayed there, it believe it would be worth 3-4 times as much now as what we paid for it back then.
Even though I no longer own my home, I’m still tremendously happy. The paths I’ve traveled thus far have brought me to a point where I’ve become more and more comfortable within myself and my heart. If “Home is where the heart is,” then living from the heart and following your own personal path of courage will ultimately lead to a perpetual sense of happiness, wellbeing, and being at “home” in your own life and skin, no matter where your physical location might be.
The Child I Never Had
This topic has been one I’ve been conflicted about on some level or another for essentially my entire life.
I’ve never been passionately drawn to the idea of having children. I’ve met many women that wanted children so badly they’d exclaim their ovaries hurt every time they’d see or talk or think about anything related to family and babies. This has never really been the case for me, though, so it’s been really hard for me to relate with most women on this level.
That said, I must admit I am somewhat fascinated by children and the human species as a whole. The way a human mind and personality develops and unfolds is surely captivating, and I imagine it must be something amazing to witness and behold. I certainly wonder what another human being would be like if my DNA were to be combined with someone else’s — especially if it was with someone I dearly loved and admired.
What would my child look like? What would his or her temperament be? Would he or she be drawn to sciences or the arts? What kind of a parent would I be? But is curiosity alone reason enough to become a mother? Unlike many (or perhaps most?) women, motherhood has never been something for which I’ve longed and yearned.
A number of years ago, I found myself facing the hardest decision of my life. I accidentally became pregnant. Steve was the father. When I found out, we had been in a relationship with each other for less than three months. I loved Steve deeply, but I was scared beyond belief. Do I keep this baby, give birth, raise this child, and commit to being a parent for the rest of my life? Or, should I have an abortion?
Steve said he would support me fully in whatever I decided to do. But with that in mind, he did express that he felt it would be a wiser decision to have an abortion. Given that we had only been in each other’s lives for such a short time, lived in different countries, and my poor financial situation, it did seem to make more sense to not follow through with pregnancy and parenthood. At least, not yet — if ever.
The decision to have an abortion made sense from a logical standpoint. But my heart was being torn to pieces. I didn’t feel right about becoming a parent under my given circumstances, and yet I didn’t feel right about terminating the pregnancy either. The idea of carrying through with the pregnancy but giving the child up for adoption didn’t feel right either. Nothing felt right. But I had to make a decision. Needless to say, it was an incredibly difficult and emotional time for me.
All things considered, I finally decided to terminate the pregnancy. It was and still is the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life.
I remember the procedure very well. I opted to avoid the usual painkillers and sedatives offered… I wanted to be conscious and awake for this. Although after some prompting I decided I’d try the nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. I don’t know why it’s called that, though. I cried and cried the entire time.
I cried deep moaning sobs that shook my very soul. I remember thinking while crying and sobbing, “I’m killing my baby. I’m sorry. I love you. I’m so so sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. I love you. I love you. Please forgive me. Please, please forgive me. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I love you.”
I had no knowledge of the concept of Hoʻoponopono at the time, but it turns out that was exactly what I had been thinking — except I had been leaving out the “Thank you.” Although, come to think of it, it’s possible I might have silently thought “Thank you”, once everything was over and done.
I still think about what my life might have been like had I made a different decision. My child would have just turned three this month. For some reason, I think the child would have been a boy.
The Path of Courage
Was my decision to terminate my pregnancy motivated by fear? Definitely. But it was partly motivated by love, too.
I was scared at the prospect of becoming a parent, especially given my then-current circumstances. There’s no doubt about that. So where does the love fit in? Did I make a choice motivated by fear and cowardice? Or was it actually a path of courage?
After thinking about it for a very long time, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s all a matter of perspective.
One way of looking at the situation is this: I didn’t let the fear of being judged by others make my decision for me. If I was too afraid of what others might think of me for having an abortion, or if I was too afraid of the possibility of not being accepted by family or friends for choosing this path, I would have let that fear bully me into having a baby I was not prepared to have. And since I did not allow that fear to dictate my decision, you could then describe my choice as taking a path of courage.
I want to make it clear that there was definitely fear in the mix, but it wasn’t a decision completely devoid of courage, either. I experienced fear at the prospect of either outcome. In this situation, any of my options actually held different possibilities for following a path of courage and love.
What I’ve come to realize, though, is that there’s often more than just one path of courage available to us at the various crossroads in our lives. Having and raising a child can definitely be seen as a very courageous path, as well.
However, seeing how commonly tread and traveled the parenthood path has become, it’s definitely quite courageous to choose to travel along the less-trodden path. Who knows what I’ll discover there?
Choosing Your Path
Is following through with an unplanned pregnancy “the right” path to take, even if one or both parents do not wish to have (another) child? I honestly don’t think there’s a clear-cut black and white right or wrong answer here.
From one point of view, you might believe that terminating an unplanned pregnancy is very selfish. If the mother-to-be is healthy and there are no health-related risks presented to either the mother or the child, some might hold the perspective that the morally responsible or correct thing to do would be to have the child, no matter what.
If I made the decision to embrace parenthood, would I be able to fulfill my other hopes and dreams? Knowing that my hopes and dreams involve positively influencing others and working towards making the world a better place, I felt that embracing a life of motherhood would seriously hinder my efforts and goals. I realize they’d still be possible… but likely a lot more difficult to achieve, too. What if not having a child meant I would be more likely or able to positively affect hundreds, or thousands, or maybe even eventually millions of others, vs focusing so much on raising one specific tiny little human being?
There’s definitely no shortage of humans currently populating the Earth. The current global population of over 7 billion people is already two to three times higher than the sustainable level. Several recent studies show that Earth’s resources are enough to sustain only about 2 billion people at a European standard of living. That being the case, it’s definitely not a stretch of the imagination to say that having any more than one or two children in this day in age can be viewed as a selfish act, serving mainly to fuel your ego and personal sense of meaning and purpose. Some might even hold the perspective that it’s our moral and ethical responsibility to have one or possibly two children at maximum, to only have children if it’s planned and desired, and to only have children if you are capable of providing the best environment to support their growth and development. This would include their emotional environment and development.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
If I ever choose to become a mother, I want it to be intentional and deliberate — not a reactionary response. Otherwise, I’d worry about unintentionally harboring some sort of resentment towards having and raising a child that I did not plan nor intend. And seeing that Steve wasn’t interested in having another child either (he already has two), I worried about even more possibility for unintentional resentment to arise.
I’m not saying that I made a wonderful decision. Nor am I saying it was an awful and horrible decision. I have a blend of positive and negative feelings associated with the decision I made.
With everything said and done, I am glad to report that I am very happy not to be a parent as result of my choice. I have been able to partake in some wonderful adventures that would have been very difficult to undertake with a baby or toddler in tow.
Even so, I still wonder from time to time what things might have been like if I had chosen to take a different path.
The Road Not Taken
The Road Not Taken is the title of a poem by Robert Frost. It’s been a favorite poem of mine since I first read it at the age of fourteen.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
What roads have you tended not to take thus far along your journey through Life?
Do you tend to walk along the well-traveled paths of predictability and normalcy?
Or do you tend to choose the path that is less traveled by?
Although it’s certainly okay to briefly entertain different possibilities and their outcomes had different paths been taken, don’t make a habit out of it, and don’t let it consume you. Thinking about the effects your actions have made on the present is one thing, but mulling over the past (or what might have been or could have been) will only serve to take you out of living in the present.
You can only consciously create your future when you are fully living in the present, walking along your path with deliberate and intentioned footsteps.
Regardless of what decisions were made and what roads have been taken thus far in life, it’s imperative to live fully in the present and embrace the here and now. Release any negativity or regret you might be carrying with you from past decisions.
Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Love. Too often, it’s the path less traveled by.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.