Answer On A Cold Walk

Yesterday, I had lunch with eight interesting people. The facilitator, whom I’ll name below, asked a question toward the end of our meal. Most of the people answered. I did not. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I’m better off not saying anything if I don’t have anything clear or real to say.

Then,this morning on a hiking trail through the woods, it hit me. Clarity. Realness. My reply.

But first, the question that I’ve turned over in my heart, mind, and soul between yesterday’s lunch in a friendly setting and this morning’s walk over the frozen ground.

The question was as I remember it: when you look back, is there something you’d do differently? Something you’d change?

Big topic over kale salad, to be sure.

Nearly everyone else at the table answered, as I noted above. Their responses were fabulous. If you think they replied with platitudes,think again. Honesty, truthfulness, disclosure, and more—those were the qualities of their answers. I won’t divulge them here because I don’t have anyone’s permission to do so. Trust me, though, the folks at the table were amazing in their reactions to this big, important question.

When I heard the question, in a split second, my thoughts turned toward decisions I’d made about career, education, and the like. But it just didn’t sit well. I kept thinking and nothing better formed. So, I listened. And waited.

My waiting ended a couple of hours ago as our dog Shelby raced ahead to chase another squirrel and I pulled my collar up against the cold air. A trace of snow covered ice on our path. I needed to walk carefully.

Stepping thoughtfully, I reflected back on one of my core ideas. I view life as having far more choices than we tend to assume, tend to detect, or even, for some, tend to fear. It’s within that personal idea of mine that I found my answer to yesterday’s probing question.

It’snot whether I’ve had such a road-not-taken moment that I can articulate and share with others. It’s rather if I’ve had any moments that DIDN’T contain the seeds of major change, of major consequence in going left instead of right. I know, reader, or I have a guess that I know, your likely reaction: “Come on, Dan, there’s no way that every moment is defined the way you’re saying.”

You’re right, of course. Yet, I urge you to consider whether we truly appreciate the vast number of potential changes that abide in—lurk in—many, many times in our lives.

So,if I’m close to the truth on this, a challenge appears two-fold—first, having the awareness to recognize these multiple moments of potential change we live through and, second, after such recognition, having the ability to prioritize, to filter and sort out, those with the greater meaning from those with little or lesser meaning.

These two points I’ve just referenced as part of the challenge deserve your attention for just a few more seconds. Think about what you’re overlooking, what you’re missing, when you don’t have that awareness and when you don’t weigh them to determine their true impact. Think about how, as your life unfolds or your River flows ahead, you strengthen or weaken your capacity for grasping the two-parted challenge, the Two-Hearted River.

By the way, Shelby never caught the squirrel. I warmed up as our hike went on.

My thanks to Jerry Knoop for organizing yesterday’s lunch. If you’d like to participate in one of Jerry’s lunches, contact him at 317.459.1984. It’s time well-spent.

Thanks for reading. All the best, Dan