I Chose the other Path

Sept 1, 2019

Sometimes you find yourself on a path you didn't intend to take, but that doesn't mean it won't take you to a wonderful place.

Sometimes you find yourself on a path you did intend to take, but that doesn't mean it will take you to a wonderful place.

Sometime you might choose to take a different path, the path less taken, less popular, but that doesn't mean it won't take you someplace wonderful.

Sometime you will have to make a choice - the path to the left? The path to the right? Which should I choose? How do I decide? Do I go down the popular, well-trodden path? Or the path with many uncertainties?

Nobody can make that choice for you, for me. That is a choice we each have to make for ourselves. Search your heart and you will find the answer. Not just 5 minutes, but hours over days, weeks, months if necessary. Search your heart and you will find your answer.

My life suddenly changed paths without me having to make any decisions about it. It was thrown upon in a moment, in an afternoon. For a year or more afterward, I lived the life of a living hell. Everything I did failed. I lost everything, even myself.

Then I realized I needed to search within myself if I were to climb out of the hole I dig myself into.

I spent many hours over many days and weeks and months sitting alone in the desert. Not a metaphorical desert, but a real desert where I could hear only the sounds of the birds and insects. Where I could see only the creatures created before mankind set foot upon the earth. It was in this time of self-healing, meditation if you will, that I started to find myself again. And from that point on I started the long climb out of a deep, deep hole, out of my personal hell.

I eventually reached the top of the hole, climbed over the rim, and started the next part of my recovery - exploring what to do with the rest of my life. Which path should I take? The known path of an 8-5 routine, the doldrums of the same days repeated over and over again? Or should I look for something different? Something outside of my comfort zone? A path that would cause other people to ask "Are you crazy?"

I had a choice to make - the path known, or the path unknown. If I had chosen the path well known my life wouldn't have changed, not really. It would be the same routine, day after day, with the same people saying the same things. On the other hand, I could have chosen the path unknown, a path I had never set foot to before. A path people said was crazy and dangerous. Two choices - continue my life as it was, or start something new.

I chose to latter option - the path unknown. I had written a message a message to friends telling them about this choice and what I was thinking of doing and in the message I wrote that I was starting a new chapter in the book of my life. One friend I hadn't heard from in many years wrote back "Chip, you're not starting a new chapter in the book of your life, you're starting a new book".

I thought about that statement - I'm starting a new book, not a new chapter. Why is that significant? Taking the path well known would be a new chapter. That would be the same story continuing in the same book. No real changes happening there. It would be easy and comfortable, familiar. Is that what I wanted? Is that what I needed? Familiar? Comfortable? Easy? Or did I need something bigger than that? I decided that yes, I needed something bigger which is why I had decided on the path less taken. The unknown path. It would be full of difficult times, hardships, new friendships, missed loved ones, new loves, new experiences, excitement, a new routine. A new book? Would I be writing an entirely new book of my life? Yes, that is exactly what it would be, break out of my old routine, step out of my comfort zone, and start writing a new life story.

What would that new life story be about? I had no idea, I only knew that I had to do it. With my wife, Cheryl, gone from my life, starting a new book was the only real choice. To choose to stay on the path well known, to have maintained the routine, would have been spiritual death, mental death. A slow road to nothing but unhappiness, possibly bitterness and anger because of the way life turned on me. I had to start a new book; I felt I had no choice but to take the path unknown. However, the question remained - what would this new book be about? What would the plot be? How would it unfold? Only time would answer those questions. Was I nervous with these uncertainties? Afraid of what might happen in such an unknown story? Did I feel trepidation? Honestly only the slightest little bit which I pushed back into the corners of my mind. I felt excitement and wonder. I had the self-confidence to know that no matter what, it was going to work out fine. I knew it wouldn't be easy, writing this new book, but I also had the self-assurance and fortitude to go through with it. And I did.

The day came to step out of one life and into another; to step onto a plane that would take me to a country I knew little about and what I did know was based on what I'd seen on TV or read about on the internet. I left with my carry-on bag and two checked bags. That's all I had of my previous life. Everything else had been sold or given to charity. I decided to make a clean break, and I did just that. Leaving my sons, brothers, relatives, and friends behind wasn't easy. Especially when one son was happy for me and the other wasn't. But I couldn't let that effect my new life story. I love my sons with all my heart, there's no doubt about that. I always will. I may not be there with them, but they have their own life stories to write. That day came, I gave them each hugs, shook their hands, and said "See you later", then I was gone to start a new journey.

I came to this country, foreign to me, with no expectations. I was starting from a clean slate. I would accept my new life in all its glory and with all its defects. I knew it would be different from what I am used to, a new culture, a new society, new norms, different attitudes, and different beliefs. I came not expecting to find the same comfortable life that I had before, but I came expecting adventure and new experiences. That is exactly what I have found.

I am now a little more than 6 years into my new life story, my new book of life. It hasn't been easy, but it has been an adventure. It hasn't been fun-n-games, but it has been an experience that has changed me. Every day is different, I like that. No more 9-5 daily routine that never changes. I like that, too. Every day has had some uncertainties, some days more than others, but that is life, that is what makes it exciting. Without those uncertainties, without those small worries, life would be routine and boring. But, I don't let the negative aspects affect me. I push them back into the corners of my mind and I continue moving forward because that is the direction I am looking - ahead. If I had eyes in the back of my head, maybe I would be going backwards, I don't know. But, what I don't do is this: I don't turn my head and look back at what might have been, what could have been. I focus on the road ahead, always and only, on the path that moves me forward into the new pages, the next chapters, of this new book of my life.

Am I glad for the decision I made back in 2013? Yes. Do I have any regrets about making this decision? No. We all have to choose which path we will take. Think about your paths ahead, consider them, pray about them, think about them, but don't over-think them, don't take the rest of your life wondering which to take. Give careful consideration to the paths for a relatively short period of time, then make a decision, choose a path, and step out onto that path. The alternative - the same life as always. If that is what you choose I hope the best for you, if you choose the path less trodden I know you will find yourself in a new adventure, whether it is good or not is your choice, it is what you make of it.