I have been telling people this week I am still not match fit, but getting closer to being able to get a game with the seconds. A couple of people have taken the opportunity to remind me that sitting on the bench you can still see all the play and from time to time you are required to jump onto the field for a short time and then back to the bench where you can rest and recover. There is a mantra about not quitting and taking a rest instead – that is also useful in these times. I seem to start to feel better and then over commit, quickly forgetting my limitations at the moment and then even more quickly being reminded of them. On the outside most people don’t seem to notice much, but those who have known me a long time, or know me deeply aren’t fooled and offer lots of kind words, encouragement and are patient with me. I am constantly touched by those acts of compassion and companionship. Not getting back to people and not following through in a timely fashion is out of character for me, and I am suiting myself about what I can and can’t manage and have taken the view if people don’t understand that’s too bad right now. I can pick up threads later … or not.
Re-reading the American poet Robert Lee Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken. He wrote it for a friend who was indecisive although it has been interpreted in all sorts of ways. I have always found it to be an invitation to travel on the less defined path, which may be more treacherous and more interesting, an invitation to unexplored territories and more adventures along the way. My reflection now is the road not taken and the one taken are both sides of the same coin, because in the end we all end up at the end of the road which ever path we have been. Taking an easy route sometimes is ok and even what might appear easy once wasn’t and had to be overgrown first before the path was made clear. Every journey has its hazards and disappointments, twists and turns, even the ones which appear grassy and green at first. Regardless of the path you are on, you are on a journey and regardless of the journey you are going to a final destination. There is no way out of that reality; we have choices in every yellow wood we come across.
Choices might be laden with ease or difficulty, and in my experience, the same set of choices on a different day may be easy one day and difficult the next. So much of what is possible is linked to not just the path but to our own capacity to walk it. Being match fit, is a variable regardless of the road taken.
What helps with fitness is practice? Regular and disciplined; time to sit on the bench and watch, time to get onto the field; taking instructions from coaches and mentors, listening to the body, saying yes and saying no, paying attention to the road not taken and knowing it will be still be there for another day.
The re-wiring I am doing is offering up two roads diverging in grey matter many times a day. I take the invitation now to stop and take a long look down one way as far as I can, and see bends in the undergrowth, and take the invitation, or not, to look to the road wanting wear and to take it or not, all the while knowing there are roads not taken waiting to be taken another day. With a breath in, and a comforting exhaling sigh to myself, set my compass to the values to turn me towards synaptic paths to rewire for differences to be made today and in the days ahead. Then once turned, take the one less travelled, invite my values to hold this pilgrim to stay the course.
The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash