I think it’s fairly safe to assume that most people journey through life and ultimately find themselves at a crossroads at some point along the way. After all, most of life’s major events are a crossroad of some description wouldn’t you say? A series of decisions that need to be made where considerations are weighed up against the intended or unintended consequences that may result.
So life then becomes a series of consequences which make up our collective experiences and milestones. If I turn left here I get married, if I turn right I cut and run, if I go straight ahead then I keep the status quo. It applies to all of our major life decisions – to have children, start a business, move to a new town, take a job, leave a job.
But not all crossroads are created equal.
Some crossroads that we come upon are found on quiet dusty backroads, insignificant and easy to navigate but requiring a decision nonetheless. Do I wear a dress or pants to work today, should I get up and go for a run or indulge in that extra hour sleep in or will I make the most of the sunny day and get stuff done or bum on the couch and watch the footy? When faced with these crossroads we barely require time, effort or consideration in determining the way forward. The risk of getting it wrong is negligible; a little inconvenient maybe, but unlikely to be catastrophic.
But of course, life isn’t always travelled upon the backroads. We often have to take on the hustle and bustle of the city and soon enough we’re faced with a busy intersection. Nervous yet? Sometimes, the stakes are a bit higher. The risks are more significant but the reward is the payoff. Most often, at crossroads such as these, once we’ve figured out our path and committed to it, there is potentially no easy way back. But that’s the trade off when chasing dreams or following our heart. You only have to think of marriage, having children, or moving to a new town or country to know this to be true. Significantly larger than the dusty backroad, this crossroad requires more assessment, some forward planning and a weighing up of the options so that you can reach a point where you are comfortable that the risk is ultimately going to pay off.
Then of course there are crossroads that can’t be planned for. These crossroads are the ones seem to crop up out of nowhere and as you come over the top of a rise you’re forced to slam on the brakes just to stop in time and avoid being cleaned up. Fate simply causes you to take a wrong turn and steers you in an unknown direction (usually the most confusing and disorienting of directions) and before you know it, you realise you’re in the middle of the maddest spaghetti junction you’ve ever known.
Crossroads such as this are confusing and scary. Chaos reigns supreme and all of a sudden life as you were living it has changed. You might flail about, thinking the world will never right itself again, feeling overcome with emotion and a sense of overwhelm. At some point you might think you’re handling it, working out a plan of attack or seeing the signs that point to the way forward with clarity. Then someone cuts you off and all of a sudden it’s chaos all over again. These types of crossroads require deep thinking. Consideration at every level, from every angle and of which you might not even be aware has to be given so that you can figure out which road to take or direction to head in. Crossroads such as these require a thorough dissection of what you can handle and where you thought you were headed. Road maps and GPSs need to be reconfigured and reset.
Where are you now going? Who is going to be impacted? The best option might take you longer or you might need a detour so what are you willing to give up, to compromise?
More often than not there will be angst, and heartache and soul-searching because these crossroads have the potential to alter your life. Many of us have been at this crossroad. I’ve been at a crossroad that I would describe as a spaghetti junction with the death of my mum. I didn’t know it at the time, but I lost my way and often, in situations like these, this type of crossroad can be catastrophic with long, lingering consequences. Death, illness and trauma are all life events that can transport you to a spaghetti junction in a moment. Getting a divorce or losing a job can do the same.
But a spaghetti junction crossroad can also create opportunities, open new pathways, force an awakening or create a catalyst for change. If you want it to.
Do I want it to?
I’m at a crossroad. A series of circumstances outside of my control have led me to this point in time. I’m in the space of having some awareness of what was coming and not being completely ambushed but being utterly devastated all in the same moment. In the past three days I’ve transitioned from a highly emotional and reactive space to making a conscious effort to regroup and search for the silver lining. And to do that I have had to lay my cards on the table and identify what is important to me.
I’m not 100% sure of what the future holds but I’m convinced that I can run with the opportunity that this crossroads presents. All I can do is put my best foot forward.
And remember that life could be much worse – my health is intact, I still have my family and no one has died. At the end of the day, in moments like these, all you can do is believe that things are going to turn out ok.
Have you ever faced a metaphorical spaghetti junction in your life? Did the risks that you took pay off in the long run?