Have you ever traveled a good distance along your path toward fulfilling a dream and asked yourself, “What the heck was I thinking?”
There are several ways in which my wife and I are trying to break away and “pave our own road” for our family. Our children are schooled at home and benefit from learning in a non-traditional classroom. Even this simple arrangement is becoming more complex as our children grow older. They maintain an active social life and are involved in several extra-curricular activities. It is amazing how their commitments can proliferate and super-charge the pace of our lives. Without warning, our idyllic plans for a particular weekend can be de-railed by rain delays, shuttling back-and-forth between venues and the unforeseen outgrowths of their commitments. Fortunately, it works out, as we’ve learned how to adjust our “self-defense” in order to combat the formidable opponents of busyness, adolescence and the resulting time-starvation.
It is important to recognize that breaking away, whichever form it takes, is never easy. Regardless of how exciting or compelling your vision, going it alone is intimidating. Sometimes, despite our best efforts and intentions, the road that we have chosen ends…very, very badly. I admit that there have been times during which I feel completely isolated and afraid. It is hard to hold firm because my weaker nature would rather fail en masse as opposed to failing all alone. When it is just me, the consequence of coming up short in my efforts feels more epic and heavily burdened.
Breaking away also suggests that the road is less traveled; at a minimum it may be overgrown. I can get disoriented and frustrated along the way. I have to be vigilant and mindful of the signposts…no matter how subtle they may be to me. In the end, each of us as individuals is left to live with the outcomes of his own life choices. What happens if things don’t turn out the way one hopes? What if portions of our experiment fail? Naturally, all of us would choose to avoid failure, if that were possible.
I was caught off guard at the recent graduation of my eldest child from the 8th grade. As I looked at him and the other students who were graduating, I briefly questioned the decisions that my wife and I had made along the way. Will my son, Jude and his siblings someday long for us to have made different choices? Much later in their lives, will they question whether it would have been easier, more fun or effective to have followed a more traditional path of learning? Daydreaming in the midst of my mild panic attack, I recalled a bumper sticker that read “Heaven not Harvard!” It clicked. I reconnected with the longer view of our efforts and my doubts receded.
I am grateful to have had a small measure of second guessing and gut-checking the weighty life choices that we have made thus far in our marriage and family. It does not stop me from wondering how I’ll feel when one thousand additional decisions are behind us. I am sure that I will have to bear the weight that comes from comparing future circumstances to what might have otherwise been? Staying on our own path, pressured by the conflicting views of the world around us is difficult. I am grateful that in our deepest parts, we are endowed with what it takes to break away.
What do you say to yourself when feelings of doubt well up inside of you?
Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying….cause you are!