Everything you say will speak to somebody, somewhere. We are out there searching for love, for happiness, for the golden ticket that will take our worries away and grant us a life of pervasive pleasure, of smoothly-learned lessons, of constant self-improvement. We are always looking for that new perspective, the one that will make all the difference in the way we see and perceive the world. We are hanging on by a thread that somewhere there are a few short lines of rhetoric that, once we come in contact with them, will remove the struggles and the burdens and the dead ends and transform them into something that strengthens us rather than draining us.
Why do we read quotes from people whose lives were deemed “inspiring”? Why do we seek advice from the older and the wiser, the ones we think will know better, who have been here, who can shed a light on our path of darkness that we wouldn’t find without their help? Why do we read article after article of people’s arbitrary thoughts – their lists on how to live a better life and how to live a worse life and how to wake up and realize that you’re life as it is just might be better than you’ve been giving it credit for? We wouldn’t do it if we weren’t looking for something.
The thing about reading people’s thoughts, though, is that it isn’t actually arbitrary. It is relevant. It is close to home. Their experience from yesterday is something we will encounter days or weeks or years down the road. Or, at best, they may have gotten over something we are going through now. They see the light at the end of the tunnel while we are just beginning to realize that we have entered a tunnel, that there will be a lot of narrow space and darkness, that there is only one way out at the end of a long, recurrent road. They can help us. They can advise us. They can show us a new perspective, one that was not our own, but one that is better and that we can willingly take on. One that will make this easier, more rewarding in the end.
My favorite poem is pretty cliché. It’s the one you might remember from middle school english class. There are two roads. You can take one and not the other. It is implied that one of the two is the preferred route of many people and that the person in question decided to take the other, and that it made a big difference. Presumably a positive difference.
The other road. The #2 door. We all wonder from time to time what lies on the other side of it.
What if it is the same? What if the two roads connect at the end, overlap, leading ultimately to the same destination? You are standing there at the divergence where the one road ceases to be only one and becomes two alternate, mutually-exclusive journeys. You are standing there, at the precipice, and you are the same person regardless of which direction your next step favors.
You are a person of certain values, certain preferences, a set of experiences shared with you in their entirety by no other individual, and all of that combined is what brings you to this point in your life. You can choose one path or the other, but with every step along that path you will still be you, you will choose each step of your journey as it comes. Based on which road you selected, the view might be different. The location may change. The physical surroundings might vary depending on that one initial choice.
You will meet different people, naturally, as a product of where in the world you are. You will have different resources available to you. But the one calling the shots is still you. It’s not to say you don’t change throughout your journey, not to say that our experiences have no power to shape us and mold us and a little at a time alter us, but no matter how far you travel down that road you will still be the person who stood at the beginning of the journey. Hopeful. Scared. Waiting for the next thing.
We are all on that journey. Every morning when you wake up, you have two roads in front of you. Pick one. Keep walking. And do all the good that you can along the way, “for you shall not pass this way again.” Your words, once you form them, will speak to someone. Because everything you say will speak to someone.