the temptation of being someone else

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.
— Robert Frost

Until recently, this poem was a relic of my Maine upbringing, a celebrated poet of the northeast who, I supposed, liked walking in the woods and taking the less-trodden paths. I could sympathize -- I often prefer to have the trails to myself when I run from the noise of town into th woods.

But oh, Robert Frost -- you are talking to us about Dharma.

Whispering quietly amidst the modern-day memes and banners screaming BE ANYTHING YOU WANT! EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE! is a small, persistent voice. It has been speaking ever-louder to me recently, pushing me to inquire deeper and deeper into what.the.hell.it.wants.

Lo and behold, it is wise. And insistent. And demands attention.

It is, as many philosophers call it, The Gift. The Gift, the calling, the blessing, The Muse, the THING that is waiting to be BIRTHED into the world through you.

Not someone else - you. Thomas Merton sums it up nicely. He wrote, "Every man has a vocation to be someone: but he must understand that in order to fulfill this vocation he can only be one person: himself."

I know that somewhere in your gut, or your chest, you have a knowing. Whether it feels clear or confusing, obvious or oh-so-chaotic, your very soul knows that there is a THING. A Path ahead. 

So whaddya do?!

You must bravely start making choices. 

We return to Mr. Frost. He stood at the junction of the two paths long enough to consider - and then, he made a decision (based on little information) and kept moving. All too often we find ourselves in the paralysis of decision making because of the What Ifs: what if it WAS the wrong path?! 

This leads to one thing, and one thing only: the death of the dream. Standing at the juncture, indecisive and making Pro/Con lists, zero steps forward, zero steps back. Stagnant in the cesspool of What If. 

The moment we make a choice, logical or illogical, based on research or instinct, we set things in motion. We give the cosmos the signal to line things up, get those opportunities churning, LET'S DO THIS.

I've seen coaching clients whose lives, relationships, and careers shift dramatically the moment they sign up for coaching, before we've even had our first session, because they committed to themselves. That seemingly simple act transforms our lens on life, our own empowerment, and possibility.

I've witnessed brave leaps of committing to path, passion, purpose -- a sister whose inspired exclamation that she was GOING TO KENYA! after a powerful experience were put quickly into action and... she went to Kenya. 

Decisiveness. Action. Making a commitment to BRAVELY follow your own path.

Follow the path that is your own. Even the Bible tells us so, in the Gospel of Thomas: If you bring forth what is within you it will save you. If you do not, it will destroy you. 

Take a moment. And then, onward. Later, you will look back to tell the tale of adventures large and small... and all your own.