Life is not linear

Most people are familiar with the expression that life is a journey. Some expect the journey to be like a hike on a well-maintained trail with planned destinations, scheduled stops, and bubbling water fountains along the way. On that journey everything is predictable, but that philosophy inevitably leads to disappointment. No trip can be planned with such perfection that every aspect occurs and occurs on schedule.

I think humans were made to venture off the well-worn trail and travel cross-country where trails are narrow, overgrown, and rarely straight. On such a trail, the destinations defy schedules and the hiker must embrace the inevitable truth that sometimes an intended destination is never reached, and at other times new destinations are discovered. The pace must be slower, but if the traveler’s focus is not on the destination but on the trail, there will be unexpected sights, sounds, and challenges. All those unexpected things are what makes the journey worth it.

As one nears the end of life’s journey, it is not a defeat if destinations planned as a youth are never reached, but that can only be true if new destinations along the way were visited and enjoyed. Some never come to realize that life is not linear, and others discover the virtues of a circuitous trail too late for it to make a difference. But is it really ever too late to venture off the well-marked trail? One can never know the answer to that unless they do.


So, I think it’s possible that Mr. Frost expressed similar thoughts, albeit a bit more eloquently, in The Road Not Taken.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

 And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


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