Wednesday, January 27, 2021

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: Where Are You Headed?


“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go.” Dr. Seuss

Nothing is more disheartening on a road trip than getting lost. I can clearly recall the frustration of becoming disoriented or “turned around” in some places, and how vulnerable and stupid I felt in those moments. Nothing seemed to make sense and every move I made appeared to create more confusion.

Being bewildered or flummoxed in the journey of life is like that. On those occasions when I felt I had lost my sense of direction and purpose, the world seemed gray and every turn seemed to take me nowhere. I felt insecure and I worried that others could easily take advantage of me. Until I regained my bearings, life was a blur and all progress stopped.

When it comes to road trips, and to living with joy and fulfillment, an average compass is far more valuable than a superior speedometer. As long as we are moving forward on the right road it is seldom helpful to fret about the pace. I must admit that I have spoiled many a family trip over the years by obsessing over how quickly we were “getting there.” 

  • “No, we can’t stop and see that. If we do, we’ll never get there.”
  • “Yes, I’m sure that would be interesting, but it’s a bit out of the way.”
  • “I know you’re hungry, but we have just a couple of hours before we get to our hotel.”

At this stage of my life, I am trying to remember that worrying over velocity is a happiness-inhibitor. That’s because the joy is in the journey, not in “arriving” and absolutely NOT in arriving sooner

The truth is we never do arrive — at least not in this life. Happiness is in a direction, not a place. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. observed, “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.” 

Thus, while speed doesn’t matter, movement does. The essence of life is movement. Nehru said, “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

One of the keys to a successful life is getting clear about where we are and where we should be going. “Sharing a clear and concise vision spawns a sense of purpose and direction.” Farshad Asl. 

Thereafter, we need to check our compass periodically and, if necessary, adjust our path. From time to time, we need to take our bearings and confirm that the way we are going is taking us toward our vision and dreams. Otherwise, as Lao Tzu warned, “if you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

As we journey through life, we will reach meaningful milestones from time to time. Reaching them and acknowledging them re-energizes us and helps us appreciate our progress. We should celebrate those moments, but we must resist the temptation to abandon the journey there, thinking we’ve reached the end of the road. The minute we throw away our compass and decide that life holds no further adventure for us, we are doomed by our own self-fulfilling prophecy. We condemn ourselves to a dull and lifeless existence. “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It is lethal.” Paulo Coelho.

As for myself, I intend to enjoy the journey and relish the adventure. I aim to love my fellow travelers and help them along the way. I plan to consult my compass from time to time and move steadily in the direction of my dreams. I am determined to stay alive my entire life, hopefully preparing for the great adventure that lies beyond.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021





"There is a tendency among many shallow thinkers of our day to teach that every human act is a reflex, over which we do not exercise human control. They would rate a generous deed as no more praiseworthy than a wink, a crime as no more voluntary than a sneeze.  Such a philosophy undercuts all human dignity.  All of us have the power of choice in action at every moment of our lives.”  Fulton J. Sheen 



As we travel our life journey, we make choices, and then we live with the consequences of those choices. “Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor E. Frankl.

Life does not consist of only a few major “left turn or right turn” decisions, but of millions of judgments. Some of those choices are seemingly of little significance, while others are clearly enormous. But small or large, each decision leads on to the next and the next after that. In The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost brilliantly captured the principle that “way leads on to way” and our available options down the road are defined in sizeable measure by our previous decisions.  


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.


And yet, while we are not likely to backtrack and return to where the “roads diverged in a yellow wood,” I rejoice in the fact that we CAN go back — if we so choose — and from there choose a different path. Previous choices are direction, but they are NOT destiny. Previous choices have consequences, but those consequences are NOT immutable. Just as we have the power to choose, we have the power to CHOOSE AGAIN and to CHOOSE DIFFERENTLY. We can repent, rebuild, return to love, make restitution, and move on.

In addition, we have the power to create or reimagine different options that are not naturally presented to us. In other words, using Robert Frost’s metaphor, we are free not only to choose one road or another, but we are also free to forge our own path, to push cross-country through the woods where no road previously existed. Sometimes the “road less traveled by” is not a road at all, but merely a break in the underbrush or a game trail that leads to . . . who knows where.

Where it inevitably leads, from my own experience, is to some grand adventure. And as Helen Keller put it, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

The power to take responsibility for our choices and the resulting consequences — Stephen R. Covey calls it being “response-able” — is to me the essence of being alive, fully alive. I am grateful to understand that I am free to act and not merely to be acted upon. It is THAT knowledge that has made all the difference in my life.