This gentle path seemed too serene
For one as wise as I
A gentle voice said “Stay the course.”
I heard but wondered why.
Life’s far too short for well-lit paths
With no dangers, pits or snares
Adventure lies in darker paths
The prize for he who dares.
So stepping off the long-worn road
Into forest dark and cold
I set my own, more perilous path
To prove myself more bold.
But courage failed in stygian wood
When soon my way was lost
The scattered bones of wanderers past
Foretold this journey’s cost.
Yet deeper still my footsteps trod
Around me naught but night
The safe path a faint memory
Forgotten was the light.
The gloom embraced and blinded me
My pride refused to bend
Then that same voice said “By thy choice
Thy wandering can end.”
And in the distant, faintly seen
A light between the trees
That well-worn path of travelers past
One last time beckoned me.
The promise of its sunlit warmth
Its familiar gentle track
They called me to an easier way
I turned and stumbled back.
The journey back was long and sore
Faint hope still urged me on
I fell onto the familiar road
And wept to feel the sun.
Though forests dark will call to us
And tempt us all to roam
Far better is the Master’s path
That leads the traveler home.
There are certain life events that necessarily change you, and take it from the Muttering Mormon, getting run over is one of them. I have spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about the changes I have experienced over the last 16 months or so. I am not thinking so much of the daily physical reminders that things aren’t as they used to be, although it irritates me to no end that my wife has to load the big bags of dog food into the grocery basket instead of me. What I am more interested in is whether I have made any course corrections in terms of who I am, how I interact with others, and my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
I know things have changed. They had to. You cannot expect that your relationship with your wife will ever be the same after she has been told to say whatever she needed to say to you in case you don’t make it. You cannot look at your children the same when you know that you were within inches of losing them. You cannot look at your friends the same way when they have shepherded you through your most vulnerable and undignified moments. There are some paths you walk in life whose dust will remain on your shoes forever.
Without a doubt, there are course corrections that I needed to make last year. There were important aspects of my life that had gone neglected. Spiritually, I was distant from God. My family life was good, but I took my wife and kids for granted. Professionally I was hustling, but without much direction. I was working my way through life by reaction, bouncing in whatever direction events took me. I was losing my focus on what kind of person I wanted to be.
That isn’t to suggest that I was completely adrift. But I had slipped off course enough that, over time, I likely would land at some point far from where I intended.
Following our accident, I had some decisions to make. The most important and immediate decision was whether to surrender and conclude that the storm left me hopelessly lost at sea, or to get back to the helm, determine my destination, and assume more control over my life. Fortunately, I decided that the only acceptable choice was to limp back home.
Some good habits and practices needed to make return engagements. Prayer has become more important to me. I value my quality time with my children more, and even picking my kids up from school is immensely enjoyable. I read more. I hold my wife’s hand.
New habits that enrich my life have been added to the mix. Meditation is the biggest. Frisbee with the dog is less frequent, but highly enjoyable. All of this blogging nonsense seems to help.
Unfortunately for my wife, taking out the garbage, getting the oil changed, and picking up my clothes have not been big players before or after the accident. There are limits to my reformation.
The jury is still out, as far as I am concerned, as to whether the changes I have made in my life are going to stick, although I am optimistic. Of greater value for me is the reminder that people can change. I do not believe that dramatic events are required, either, although for the particularly slow learners like myself, I suppose it helps. But whatever can get us to slow down enough to take a serious personal inventory and make necessary course corrections has some “value.” So long as there remains a gap between who we are and what we can be, there is work to do. Work worth doing.