“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Choosing roads has not come without pain for me. When I was in high school, I told the truth about a silly choice I had made, and I was given a short vacation from attending classes. It was devastating at the time. My parents always said I should tell the truth, but I can remember my father reminding me after that incident that there are times when it is appropriate to keep one’s mouth closed, until asked (an action with which I continue to struggle today). I was having to learn there was a difference between telling the truth, when asked, and not inviting trouble, by spilling my sins. Maybe it was because I had taken a Pez candy toy from Grant’s Department Store when I was five, when my allowance of two quarters wouldn’t allow me to purchase all of the candy I desired, and I had to return to the store to admit my indiscretion and plead for forgiveness. Whatever the reason, choosing the road that comes from telling the truth has been an important choice for me.
Alice didn’t know where she wanted to go, and so which road she chose really wouldn’t matter. It is difficult to make a choice if you don’t know what you want, isn’t it? Maybe it’s the choice of what to cook for dinner or which restaurant to visit. Maybe it’s the choice to take a drug or to find an alternative for your need. It could be that you are facing a choice of figuring a plan for your life for the week or the year.
If you don’t really know what it is you desire, the direction you choose won’t matter too much. Everything I am doing this year is a choice that I hope will help me find, by December 31st, ‘Freedom in ’15’. Unlike a resolution, having a theme means that I have chosen what it is that I believe I need more of in order to experience more joy in my life. While I have chosen ‘freedom’, perhaps you will choose ‘organization’, ‘spirituality’, ‘health’, ‘family’ or ‘friends’. It’s still early in the year. It’s not too late to make a choice. Without choosing something as your focus, you will stand, as Alice did, at the fork in the road with it not mattering which road you take.
What are the choices you face at the fork? Sometimes, it isn’t that either choice will be pleasant, but one will benefit you in the long run, while the other will make life easier for today. If you’re reading this thinking “Lady, I get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, and do it all over again. What choices do I need to worry about?” Remember, I’m tying it all to finding freedom, and I think you have some choices to consider. In fact, you might find that being intentional in your choices brings you great relief, great freedom.
Here’s a very basic scenario, divided into two parts:
Part One: You wake up and must choose whether to
- watch the news and read email
- get showered and dressed.
If you choose to watch the news and check email before you get dressed for the day, you risk getting behind, hurrying to get out the door, and getting angry at the people driving the speed limit. Choosing to do first what must be done so that you can get out the door is wiser because it gives you freedom to do other things once you are ready to leave.
Part Two assumes that you made a poor choice and are now late to work, to school, or to an appointment because you chose to watch the news, read email, browse social media, or, in my case, take pictures of the birds at the feeders. You have a choice when you arrive. Neither choice is without pain, after all you are still late. You stand at the fork and to the left is “I’m sorry I’m late, I got caught up doing ____ and lost track of the time.” and to the right “Hey, I know I’m late. I got behind some granny going five under the speed limit.” You are still late, and it won’t matter to the other person why you were late, but it will matter to you if you’ve changed the truth in order to let yourself off the hook. The snare that you build with small untruths will hold you, and freedom will always be just beyond your grasp.
It is a choice you make when you choose well, when you speak truthfully. Perhaps, if your theme for the year is ‘greed’, you will find that speaking the truth won’t be the road you choose to travel. Otherwise, most of us could begin the year with a dose of honesty to set us on the right path, don’t you think?
Decide where you want to go today, this week, this year, so that it matters which road you choose. Be intentional with your walk and your words. Then remember, just when you’ve made it past the fork in the road, you might find a few bends and hairpin turns that require your continued attention. Life is a journey full of forks and bends and opportunities for freedom.
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.” ― Helen Keller