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Forks in the road of life

When people think of a fork in the road of life, it usually means important crisis points along the way, where an almost do or die decision must be made. But actually, on this journey, every moment presents you with a fork, a fork in the awareness of how you perceive what is happening right now.

Forks are only choices which, if you’re aware and attentive enough will be seen to be emerging in the most mundane of activities every minute, every day. Those activities might involve the way you react to the sandwich girl who tosses your food at you in huff and puff. How will you react or rather, act? The anger you feel as you’re driving along and someone cuts you off; and because you’re lunging at your destination, racing against the clock as you always do, your blood boils, your cortisol and adrenal levels rise and saturate your physical being. All because you wanted to edge a meter closer to your destination, just a few seconds earlier than the driver next to you!

I recently got a call from one of my oldest best friends, Ken. Ken was my best mate in my early teens and I still have many fond memories of our youth together. He was born under the Sun sign of Cancer and so being a water sign had a natural affinity with me, Scorpio. Ken had bad news. He never was one to beat around the bush. He emphatically said, “Dadhichi, I have esophageal cancer and it’s terminal”. I was stunned. What do you say to someone when they tell you they’re going to die? But what impressed me and also highlights the point I’m trying to make about forks in the road of life, being moments at the intersection of life, is that when I asked him how long he had left he replied in jest, “Between one and five years”. Interrupting my uncomfortable silence with his usual juicy punchline he giggled “My partner and I decided to take the five-year option”.

Ken has always epitomized the type of person who chooses a positive attitude, even when the worst things are happening in his life – like dying. Of course, he could have opted for the one year option, previously known as the-glass-half-empty attitude, or as he chose, he took it as an opportunity in that moment, to make light of the situation and express joy rather than sorrow, yes, that momentary fork. He went on to pragmatically remind me that death was obviously inevitable as part of life and that it happens to all of us. Something we all know, but somehow prefer not to think about.

Right now, reading this book and these words, you’re confronted with that same spiritual fork, in a sense, perhaps not in a life-and-death way, but in your very awareness, in this instant in time as to how to imbibe what you are reading and somehow apply it to your own life. Or not. There’s that fork again! And that is always the most important fork. The choices -left or right; up or down; yes or no; in or out are the endless forks that life is throwing at you as if you standing there waiting for the knife thrower to do his impressive act and miss you each and every time. The fork is simply the manifestation of polarity, the two extremes which underlie all judgement, all choices, and the whole of life. And unfortunately, it is inescapable. I say supposed choices because we assume we have free will, or do we? But that’s a whole other discussion. You can’t escape the fork. It’s an endless fork. “Should I eat the ice cream or not?” From “should I take a gamble or not” to “will I say yes when he asks me to marry me? Or not?”

The answers to these questions, virtually every question, is always underpinned by that faint feeling of fear born out your own insecurity. That insecurity takes the shape of “What will happen if I make that choice, after deliberation, and realise that the choice I made, was the wrong one?” No problem! When you arrive at that realization in your experience, that you’d made a mistake, you are always at some fork or other, so simply make another choice, or at least act as if you have that choice. That is the game of life and once you accept it and start flowing with it, not because you believe that your inner satisfaction is dependent on winning, or achieving an end goal, but because the sense of exhilaration that comes from the unknown and living life with an adventurous spirit of curiosity, is itself its own fulfilment.

Dadhichi

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