When I was a little kid and I first heard the expression when you come to a fork in the road I had a vision of pronged cutlery laying on blacktop. I wondered why it wasn’t a spoon or a knife or an entire set of silverware. I wondered who had lost that fork, and what were they doing eating food requiring cutlery while walking down the middle of the road, and how dangerous that would be as one’s attention would be on getting food to mouth rather than oncoming vehicles. Then I thought maybe that’s how they lost the fork, finding themselves suddenly dodging a Dodge, leaping to the shoulder, thus losing the fork with the quick maneuver.
So as a little kid I ended the question of what to do when encountering a fork in the road with Don’t pick it up as you don’t know where it’s been; most likely in someone’s mouth.
Still, finding an eating utensil on the street as well as reaching a bifurcation in one’s path places us at the point of decision, doesn’t it? In the 49 year old version, it’s whether I take the path that veers left or the one that goes right. In the 6 year old version it is whether or not I pick up the dirty fork or leave it in the road.
Coming upon a utensil in the road might not result in the same degree of ambivalence as choosing between Path A and Path B, especially if we have no idea where either path leads. It becomes even more vexing when we actually know exactly where each path leads but we are not sure which destination we we want. We might wish to experience or avoid one just as equally as the other.
If you spend any time on Facebook or reading those how to make your life more shiny through these inappropriately coined “life hacks”, you’ve likely encountered this tip on helping one break out of the entropy of incertitude: Flip a coin; once you’ve designated sides for each option and while the coin is in the air, you’ll find yourself hoping it lands a certain way, thus clarifying which option you truly prefer.
Here’s what I say; if you were hoping to come up heads to give its nod to Path A, then take Path B. Maybe the devil to whom you are acquainted mans the toll bridge on A Street and, after all, you’ve already met. But I bet you haven’t met Robert Frost, and he’s the tour guide on B Street. Maybe you know A is a smoother ride where B voted down the road maintenance taxes, I don’t know…
All too often we focus on the result or ramification of one choice over the other and we make our decision based on our speculation. We will even find ourselves agonizing and gnashing our teeth over the fact that the road has split before us and, God forbid, we have the anguish of having to actually decide upon something. But let me ask you this; what would be worse, finding we’ve made a bad decision, or having a bad decision made for us?
We hold in each hand the power to control our destiny. Whichever one we open defines our fate, created by our own hand, our own choice. We are not driven by the genetic control system of nature, to go south on instinct when the temperature starts to drop. Sure, we may have chosen to turn left at Albuquerque to find ourselves in the middle of the desert with a warm liter of Mountain Dew, but the beauty of it is the fact that we created that outcome. We carved that circumstance with our bare hands.
Wherever our choosing takes us, we find it will lead us to a new choice. There are no dead ends in living; only for the dead. The truth is that God did not give us free will, it is the power of our free will that makes us gods.