Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Life is An Oprah Episode - Being at the Crossroads

Many of us have found ourselves at the crossroads.  You know, that place where a decision needs to be made, a change needs to take place in order to move forward with our life.  Often as a result of a major event, being at the crossroads can be an uncomfortable, unfamiliar path. For me, I've been at the crossroads many times, and what I like about being there now, is that I get to choose the baggage to take along.

When we are growing up and finding our way, many of our paths have already been chosen for us -- our religion, our schooling, our homes and to a degree, our friendships.  I tend to categorize crossroads as a group:"the expected " or "predictable" crossroads, or "the unexpected" or "opportunistic"  crossroads.

For many individuals, a life lived with predictable crossroads might look like this -- you grow up in a stable home, go through school, maybe college, get a job, meet a mate, get married, have kids, have grandchildren, finally retire, and if financially stable, have planned a comfortable "rest of life".  The crossroads have been easy.  I am always shocked when I learn that this actually happens to people, especially today, but, I know it still does.

Then, there is the rest of  us.Whether or not we've grown up in stable home, there always seem to be hiccups along the way; along stages of our lives.  For me, the first time I found myself at the crossroads (that I can recall), was when I decided to relocate outside of NY and move to Kansas City to be with someone, who at that time, was the love of my life.  Initially, making the decision to move was easy.  I was in love, yes, but, I also had a friend (his cousin) who was going to move with me.  We worked together and posted for jobs in Kansas City.  However, I was offered a position, and my friend was not.  Shocked as I was, my first thought was not to accept the position.  Love won out.  And you know from an earlier blog, that my boyfriend, who played ball in the majors, was traded to another city shortly after I arrived.  I was sick about it, but, I had already chosen the path, and it could not be changed for at least six months....by that time, I had not only adjusted to Kansas City, but, actually loved living there.  I understood then, that, although I did not call it being at the "crossroads", it was a path of opportunity.

I am reminded of, and often think about, athletes that find themselves at the crossroads.  I've known several professional athletes through the years, and a common thread for most of them, is that they can find themselves, quite unexpectedly, at the crossroads every season, or in the middle of a season.  Here's a group of highly paid, high profiled individuals, who at any given moment can lose it all.  If they are lucky, they can get through every season, regardless of their sport, being a strong contributor to the team, remain injury free, and carve out maybe fifteen to twenty years in their chosen sport...sometime even with the same team.  But, that is rare.  My boyfriend, the ballplayer, ended up playing in the pros for only six years.  Plague by an injury to the same finger, as a pitcher, he couldn't last longer than that.  In some ways, he lived the American dream, but, fell short of completing that dream, and found himself at the crossroads at only thirty one.  He ended up selling insurance, and I suspect, not altogether happy, and I have wondered whether or not he even explored other opportunities for himself. 

As I mentioned, I have often found myself needing to make a decision.  While not always agonizing or painful, I have always been willing to take a risk, because I decided a long time ago, that no matter what decision we make, nothing is forever, and we really do have the power to change things.  And, everything is an opportunity if we look hard enough to find it.  As I find myself job-less, and without much income,  I have chosen to stare down at the crossroads without bitterness or self-pity.  I am using this time to sort through old emotional haunts, and finding ways to exorcise them.  I am also using this time to finish the books I am writing, in addition to writing this blog.

The crossroads is just change.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
John F. Kennedy


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