One of my greatest joys when I was younger was sitting out on my porch in “J-Town” as a thunderstorm rolled through. There’s nothing quite like a thunderstorm in Summertime at the end of a long, hot and humid day. I’ve described the experience at length before. I even wrote a blog post about it, many moons ago when I lived in Broomall, and everyone lived everyplace else. That time? Past. Like the once-oppressive heat that marked today, as rolls of thunder and distant lightning echo through my new home in Swarthmore and I endeavor, for the first time since finishing HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD, to write.
A lot has changed for me since that late, Friday night in April. It is now mid-July. I won’t dive into the particulars of all that has happened. Needless to say my life is, in many ways renewed. It was long overdue. To anyone that has suffered because of it, I apologize. You know who you are. But I needed a fresh start. I needed to refocus on a path… MY path forward. I spent many years putting the needs of the many before my own and in the process of doing that? I lost myself. I had to rediscover who I am. Have I? Yes. Does that mean I know my way forward? Sadly, I’m still working on it. But I’m close now.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both.” You know that one, right? “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. It’s always been a favorite poem of mine, right up there with pretty much anything T. S. Eliot wrote. For many years, there was only one road forward for me. Yet that road? It officially ended a few weeks ago. So here I am, once again looking at two, and only two possible ways forward. Down one? Continued stability and normalcy. And down the other? The road NOT taken. A riskier path. And the latter, while intriguing, scares the living bejesus out of me. It’s been a bit since I took a risk. So the question is: Do I? Do I take the road less traveled and if I do, will it make all the difference as it did for Frost?
Many have told me, as I sit here writing in silence, my only accompaniment the sound of the storm, raging outside that I am still young, even now as I balance on the precipice of 46 years, on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Yet I do not feel it. I feel far detached from that dreaming child that sat upon his mother’s porch in “J-Town” watching a thunderstorm roll past. In truth? I feel old. Despite a renewed sense of self there remains the feeling that I’m past the halfway point of my life less extraordinary and a desire to DO. Now. To live while I still can. That is the allure of the road less traveled. The well-trodden path? Easier. A slow downslope into peace, but without fulfillment. Excitement. And despite the occasional ache in my bones I still crave it. So what do I do? How do I proceed?
I know that I am being vague and that is intentional. For it feels too soon to start speaking of what lies down each path. There remains a step for me to take before I can reveal all. The final step in my so-called renewal. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I? I took BLANK, and that has made all the difference.” Which one do I choose? I know where I am. I know where I want to get to. But do I endeavor to “cash in” on a few, long held dreams before doing so? Or do I stay here. Live. Exist. Maybe write another book or two. Has the time… MY time for dreaming passed me by? Does there come a point where we really are too far along for dreams… A point where our reality is what it is and we need to accept it as such? I wish I knew. All my life I have questioned. Is it time to stop asking and just… Be?
So is the state of your old buddy the Madchronicler’s mind this evening, friends. The storm that was raging outside has passed. There are more storms in the forecast for later tonight. Let them come. Let them renew me as they did when I was a child and make me feel alive, and in amazement at the majesty of nature’s fury. My porch now? Nothing like my mother’s, but big and covered enough to allow me to sit. I think I will. Sit, and consider. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood?” I’ll let you know when I decide which one to follow. I’ll let you know if it made all the difference.