Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pathways

Determinism

There was a young man who said, "Damn!"
It appears to me now that I am
Just a being that moves
In predestinate grooves
Not a taxi or bus, but a tram.

Anonymous

When I was a child, I could see life's track laid out straight and clear in front of me: high school, college, career, marriage. I knew what would happen and I knew when. I would have three children and live on a chunk of land and have horses and dogs and generally live happily ever after. All went according to plan. Early on in high school, I decided I would study biology in college, so study biology I did. I was, and am, fascinated by how things work, but that did not translate to a career. I did not want to become a doctor or a researcher. I worked my way through college, never wavering from the pre-determined course. It was the path I had laid out for myself, so it was the path I took. And then, when I attained the degree, and began interviewing for jobs in biological research, I slowly became aware that, while I was fascinated with the mechanisms of life, I could not work the kind of job such knowledge gained one. I was, for the first time in my life, without a clear path in front of me, so I stopped. I could not see a way forward, so I did not move forward. Paralyzed by the indeterminate outcome of any decision I might make, I chose instead to make no decisions.

And the uncertainty of my life in career terms leached over into all aspects of my life. Stagnation, indecision, inertia. At first I struggled against the quagmire that had me in its grasp, tried desperately to break free, but each failed attempt chipped away more and more at my strength of will, and I gradually gave up all attempt.

Until a series of events--a death of a friend, making new friends, a remembrance of the person I was before I slowed to a stop--freed my feet from the immobilizing muck. Slowly, dimly, fitfully, the tracks ahead of me become illuminated. No longer one track moving straight forward on its pre-determined line, but a myriad of tracks, shadowy, uncertain, but thrilling nonetheless. Where before I followed the line to its end, now I see before me a spider web of inter-connected, criss-crossing paths, each one leading off in a labyrinthine track of uncertain end. And as I reach each intersection, I merely have to decide which path seems right at that point, and I need not worry about the end. If the path I choose leads me somewhere I do not wish to go, I only have to pick another at the next crossing.

5 comments:

Troy McClure said...

Especially the last three sentences in your 1st paragraph really resonate with me. It's so easy to coast & not carpe diem. I'm glad you're feeling more proactive. Are you sort of at the 'brainstorming possible directions' stage? What are some of your ideas?

anglophile said...

Hey Troy, thanks for commenting. Right now I'm at the stage of recognizing choices I have ahead of me. Already I have found myself waffling once or twice over unseen outcomes, so I'm trying to concentrate on the here and now, do the interesting and right thing for this very moment without getting too bogged down in the future. NOT ignoring possible consequences of my decisions, more like facing the range of possible consequences and deciding to not worry about them. I've been afraid of risks a long time and it's hard to start making them, even tiny ones. I'll keep you posted, if you keep reading. ;)

lizardrinking said...

This is a beautiful post, 'glo. I hope that the fronds of ferns that line the paths you walk upon, unfurl and whisper to you their secrets :)

amy d said...

I wish you luck and continued bravery on your journey, Glo. I’m ready to start making some changes in my own life. I think when you let go of something that you have been holding onto, it is you that is freed.

Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

Please come back and visit me in Stag Nation once in a while.