What is a crossroad? It is a defining moment when we are faced with a decision to make – and the decision will help define WHO we will be the other side of the crossroad. Of course, no one decision defines us. But all of us – come to big and to small crossroads on our life’s journey. These decision making times will help make up our WHO – our identity, our sense of self.
We will all face major crossroad moments on life’s journey: Do I cheat on my partner when the opportunity arises and I probably won’t be found out? Do I hold on to anger and resentment and allow it to harden my heart? Do I choose material possessions, greed and self before others? Do I settle for second best as regards my dreams? Do I reach for the bottle or pills in the face of challenge, pressure, struggle or pain? The list is endless.
Central to any crossroad is choice. One choice lessens me – one grows me: one choice stretches me – one limits me: one opens the door to my deepest and most sacred self – one clutters my life with masquerade, masks and pretend. If only it were that easy. For so often the choices are not as clear and the head and heart space around them not conducive to courage. We have a litany of competing and conflicting voices in our heads, we carry the tainted armour of previous poor choices and the inner tapes they create and we rationalise, internally debate and look for the applause of the crowd when the only real spectator in this race looks back at us from the mirror.
On the other side of the crossroad, the other side of my choice is the person I am called to become: my truest and deepest self. On the other side of the crossroad is the roadmap and the tour guide for a life of meaning and purpose if only we can find the courage for THIS crossroad. I am convinced that the crossroad decisions, while ever changing, actually become easier once we choose truth and true self before falsehood and masquerade.
One choice, looks so easy. It is comfortable, popular and wraps itself in short term pleasure and avoidance of pain. It IS easy. It is not complicated. It can be so easily rationalised and explained and it makes oh so much sense. It is loud in the ears – drowning out truth and wisdom, true courage and strength. It is so delusional and cloaks itself in illusion. This choice compromises our heart and gambles our integrity on high risk odds. We wake up empty. We wake up more heavily burdened. We wake up less free and less me.
Of course, the crossroad moments named above have thousands of minor little cousins that litter our days. But like all fitness – all discipline – the little choices create the big.
Recently I wrote about R U OK and in that blog I suggested that while that question is powerful and oh so desperately needed – perhaps even more needed is the courage and a culture whereby when we aren’t we can put up our hand and say, “No, I’m not OK!”
I also suggested that in the case of mental illness that courage and that culture is needed long before a loved one sadly takes their own life or an addiction becomes all consuming or our truest self is lost in a myriad of pleasure and or pain. What I am suggesting here was the topic of one of my very early blogs – the five second choice or five second moment. Life is a series of small five second choices. Do I reach for that fifth drink with my car keys rattling in my pocket? Do I cheat on this small exam? Do I join with the herd and backstab a friend too afraid to challenge the bleating or stand up for a personal belief or value contrary to the crowd? Do I wrap myself round with excuses rather than face personal responsibility? Again, the list is endless.
Perhaps it is that five second choice, early in the journey of pain, to turn to a trusted friend and say, “Help!” Perhaps it is that five second choice to authentically be yourself regardless of what the herd thinks. Perhaps it is that five second choice to get up again when you’ve fallen, begin again when you’re tired, trust again when you’ve been betrayed. Don’t look for the courage to summit an Everest – look for the five second courage ticking your dream right under your nose.
Oh, and begin with the five second choice not to compare yourself on this most sacred of journeys with anyone else: they have their own to make!!!