We all want to pick that one perfect path that lands us exactly where we want to be in life.
You know the one.
It’s the path you tell yourself you should have taken years ago, when you messed up that job interview or dropped out of that college program or didn’t ask that girl out, who’s now married with three beautiful kids.
We like to believe that our lives always diverge in two directions: One road that is muddled with chaos and strife (almost always, coincidentally, the road that we’re on), and another that is clear and problem-free.
But life doesn’t actually pan out this way.
The truth is, every possible road that we could go down includes struggle. Every choice that we could make is laced with strife.
We don’t get to decide whether or not life our lives include hitches and challenges – but we do get some choice over which challenges we want to have.
We can pick that all-consuming love and spend our lives trying to tame its painful fire. Or we can pick the steady, reasonable love and spend years trying to get it to spark.
We can head out on the open road and spend our bad days craving meaning and stability. Or we can stay at our 9-5 jobs and spend our bad days craving adrenaline and adventure.
There’s no way to measure apples to oranges when it comes to the choices that we’re faced with in life. Each path presents immeasurable challenges. Each side road has a ditch that we’ll eventually swerve into, once we’ve been traveling down it long enough.
And so perhaps the most salient question we can ask ourselves when looking to determine our life’s path is:
Which ditch are you okay being down in? Which problems are you happy to have?
Because everything is going to suck sometimes. Every path has potholes and bumps.
But some roads make every pothole worth it. Some roads make you willing to get out on your hands and knees and push the car out of that ditch, time and time and time again.
And so instead of asking yourself “Which path is least likely to cause pain?” Try asking yourself “What path will make the pain worth it?”
Because that’s always the path you ought to choose.
And that’s the absolute closest to perfection that any of us are ever going to get.