To flee, or not to flee?
September 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
There comes a time in everyone’s life when he or she arrives at a critical juncture, a point where the road of life splits into two, three, four, or any infinite number of paths, and a single, specific decision has the peculiar power to determine which of these forks is taken, forever leaving the other potential forks shrouded in mystery. For many people, this point of no return arrives in the middle and later years of life and involves the selection of a particular college, career path, or spouse; in my life, the choice occurred much earlier and was much more dramatic and life-altering than that. In my case, this moment of truth reared its ugly head in the face of a poor five year old, trying to decide whether or not to run away from home. I had taken the liberty of informing my mother that I was not particularly fond of some of her stringent parenting methods (yes, in those exact words), and that I was certain that my friend Allie’s parents did not inflict such parental atrocities on their innocent, unsuspecting children. I thus cordially bade my mother farewell and confidently sauntered through the front door, leaving behind the shackles of an oppressive childhood and entering into an outside world full of opportunity, freedom, unlimited TV time, and unrestricted jelly bean access. In my newfound confidence I waddled forth as fast as my little legs would carry me…all the way to the bottom of the driveway, at which point the thought of crossing the boundary of my own property, alone, summarily popped my hitherto untested balloon of courageous, exploratory genius and sent me waddling right back into my evil mother’s arms.
But now I wonder….what if I had continued on my dangerous, pioneering path? Aside from the obvious, rather boring differences of an altered family, friend group, and school selection, how would I as an individual be different today had I not lost my nerve that day at the foot of my driveway? I believe that I would have completed the lesson I forever left unfinished, that rules and conventions do not apply to me. I would have become a vibrantly independent and rebellious individual, forever throwing off the chains with which society attempted to contain me, knowing that I had already rejected the laws and tenets of the family and could not look back. I would have become an extremist in every arena of life, for as a five year old I would have already set the tone and the standard for my life, and I could never fall short of it, lest all my five year old gumption be for naught. In short, I would live in the shadow of my five year old self, always trying to live up to what I had already done. In politics, education, sports, and every other area of life, I would shun the rules and norms, becoming whatever I sensed was least acceptable to be…assassin, mass murderer, the one who steals pennies from a wishing fountain? I will never know. For I took the road more traveled, and that has made all the difference.