Today was incredible. The forecast called for 60 degree temperatures – amazing for NY so close to Thanksgiving – and I had managed to get a full night’s sleep. I bounced from bed with the simple intention to get up and out early, head to the nearby farmer’s market and buy fresh cider and organic produce. Plan in motion, I greased the gears by giving the kids plenty of advance warning and countdowns. Finally we left, only 15 minutes behind my desired departure time.
A shadow crossed my sunny disposition when we arrived and discovered the farmer’s market had ended in October. Knowing my Indigo son to be less than pragmatic when faced with thwarted desires and unplanned transitions, I braced for the expected torrent of disappointed cries and frustrated outbursts.
Uncharacteristically calm, he instead recommended we take a walk through the property, a working farm with outlying nature trails. This was a surprisingly reasonable and appropriate suggestion from my youngest, whose behaviors are largely the reason my teeth are grinding down to nubs. I jumped at the opportunity to enjoy the day and offered him praise for his stellar idea.
Meandering through woven trails, we eventually came to a split in the road; two paths, two kids, and each wanted to go in a different direction. I, the interested but uncommitted mother, stood behind them as they discussed their options. I listened to their innocent banter as they decided which was the “right” way to go and felt, suddenly, as carefree and curious as they. What a nice reminder that a plan doesn’t always need to be created, implemented or followed.
What’s the worst thing that could have happened? We could have gotten lost (we didn’t), contracted poison ivy (thank God, no) or sprained an ankle (pretty much). I managed to lightly sprain my foot by walking in cute, but highly impractical new clogs I had gotten on clearance at Macy’s the day before… but I digress. Truly this entire experience reminded me of the mixed joy found in daily life. Newfound discoveries, good and bad, can only be made through bravery, openness and a willingness to try something unexpected when the moment presents. By walking unknown territory and choosing a path that leads where it may, we are available to delightful surprises no matter how they show up. Had I stuck to my plan and not been open to spontaneity, we wouldn’t have had such a glorious morning. I took out my iPhone to capture the perfect Autumn moment. As I did, the opening strains of a song I learned freshman year of high school came into my mind. It was a musical setting of a Robert Frost poem – one of my favorites. I sang what I could remember out loud as we proceeded slowly back to our car – me limping and smiling all the way:
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.
A chance to explore – no reason or reticence – not waiting – nor wanting – just moving with a force unseen – an internal motivation not thwarted by any grand design or circumstance.
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