Fork in the road

Dr Bill Webster

Yogi Berra, the baseball player and philosopher, famously said: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

I wonder if you find yourselves at a fork in the road. How many changes have been generated by the pandemic and its aftermath, in business and in our personal lives? Many have seen changes through the death of a loved one; others in their circumstances or lifestyle.

Yogi Berra also said: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” That used to be funny, but no longer. Many people have lost their hopes and dreams.

Make the most of life

I wonder if you find yourself at one of these unavoidable forks in the road that life seems to incessantly throw at us. Change is rarely welcome, and never an easy place to be.

In such a situation, the cliché, “What are you doing for the rest of your life?” only rubs salt in the wound. If people were honest, what they would like to be doing for the rest of their life, and what they can or have to do might be dramatically different.

For many, circumstances or situations have changed and they find themselves struggling to come to terms with a ‘rest of your life’ they never expected, chose or even contemplated.

Life is never perfect. I have come to the conclusion that no one is given a ‘good life’. I do believe we are all given the gift of life, but it is what we do with it that determines whether it will be regarded as a good life, or ‘not so great’.

Nadine Stair was 85 when she reflected on what she might do if she had her life to live over. She writes: “I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans.

You see I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. I would never go anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again I would travel lighter. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies. I would stop to smell the roses.”

Have you noticed how people don’t have as many regrets about things they have done as about things they regret not having done?

How sad it is to see people trying frantically to cram all the living they can into the short time they realise is left. All the things they wanted to do, the places they wanted to see, the words left unsaid. All the things they figured they had lots of time to do, and left for a ‘better time’ or ‘one of these days’.

Beware! These ‘maybe another time’ moments are the rest of your life. Suddenly, sadly often when it is too late, it dawns on people how precious their time is and how much more they want to live it. As Henry David Thoreau wrote: “Oh to reach the point of death and realise one has never really lived at all.”

Scottish physician A.J. Cronin was forced by illness to take a leave of absence from his medical practice. He decided in his convalescence to write a novel. But when only half done, he became disheartened and threw his manuscript into the bin.

Totally discouraged, Cronin was walking the Scottish Highlands and a saw a man digging in a marsh trying to drain it for use as a pasture. As they chatted, the man said: “My father dug at this quagmire and never produced a field. But we both know that it’s only by digging you can build a pasture. So I keep digging.”

Choose your path wisely

Inspired by the man’s endurance, Cronin went home, picked his manuscript out of the bin, and finished it. Hatter’s Castle sold three million copies, and eventually, Cronin left his medical practice and became a world famous writer.

At times, you and I may feel trapped by circumstances that demand patience and persistence. Are you willing to keep digging away at whatever is ‘bogging you down’ so you that eventually you may become outstanding in your field?

David Livingstone, asked where he wanted to go to be a missionary, stated: “I am willing to go anywhere, provided it be forward.”

Now that’s an attitude that guarantees progress no matter what direction you take. It’s never too late to make the most of life. But choose the fork in the road carefully, for this is the rest of your life.

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