Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Path Not Taken

With all due respect to Mr. Frost, our well-trod path in Indiana has yielded a milestone.  Young Dominic has turned 18 and straddles the line between high school and adulthood.  He stands at life's bus station, ticket in hand, and intently studies both directions: the road from whence he came and the winding, partially obscured curves of the future.

The image is a curious double-fold for Dom.  As the youngest of four brothers, I'm sure it has been difficult, at times, bringing up the rear.  In role of family caboose, one is expected to follow the tracks well laid before you.  The course has already been cleared in most instances...just follow the well-trod, matted down grasses and don't stray too far from the pathway.  You went to the same grade school, high school, scouts, et cetera, because, in a way, you were expected to...because that was simply the way we did it.  The anticipated challenges of sweeping away debris had been done before of you.  Just follow the path.  (At least you were all boys.  No "hand me down" clothing for any of you as they were always too worn out to pass along.)  As far as expectations go, the only requirement was to keep up, step lively and follow along.  Fortunately, that wasn't entirely the case.  

It is worth noting that you're occasionally leaving the path, literally and figuratively, has been interesting, if not refreshing.  When you were five, you strayed from the family on vacation at the Liberty Bell in Philly and your dad got to give the nice Park Service Ranger his name and address in exchange for a crying child's hand and a stern lecture.  In grade school, you read so many books that your teachers gave you ribbons and we purchased eye glasses   Later you explored the mountains of Colorado with your scout buddies, seeing indescribable vistas first hand, that your brothers and parents have only seen in photographs.  As a college major, you've pointed your gaze toward chemistry...chemistry?!  Didn't I tell you about my straight "D's" in Mr. Middendorf's class?  You've never strayed dramatically and always seemed to find your own unique way back home.

And now the "real" journey begins.  There's no roadmap now.  No required attendance.  No hand-me-down guidebook.  The world is wide and big and (sometimes) frightening but you have a well-crafted internal compass and the stars to guide you.  Like the hiking backpack that you've hoisted many times, be confident that you have packed what you need to endure, survive and thrive.  Load up your broad shoulders and get ready to experience the "road less traveled" knowing that you are always loved and any steps can always be retraced back to your home.  The future awaits...and that makes all the difference!