Most people are faced with a fork in the road at some point in their lives. For some of us, there is only one fork and for many there are several. That fork in the road may come when we’re young and faced with the choice to do drugs, hang out with the wrong “friends” or dummy ourselves down to be part of the “cool” crowd. For others, the fork can hit later, when faced with the decision to have an affair, quit a job or wall off to the world to avoid ever being hurt again.
Most of these decisions often seem inconsequential at the time. The thing about forks in the road, though, is they often take our lives down an entirely different path then we would otherwise have followed. As such, many of these seemingly “minor” decisions have monumental impacts.
When that fork in the road is about extremism, hate or violence, the impact is enormous, not only in the life of the path chooser, but also in the lives of others they touch. We have far too many young people looking for answers to their life struggles via extreme thinking. Whether it’s looking to suicide to alleviate the pain of hopelessness, homicide to release anger, or radical religious beliefs to feel a sense of belonging, far too many individuals are trying to find significance or justice or (fill in the blank) by choosing a devastating direction when facing a fork in the road. Many of the roads taken are a one-way trip—there’s no turning back, no “re-dos,” and no chance of re-writing the script. Looking for extreme answers to life’s problems will result in extreme problems. ALWAYS avoid the extremes.
Life is a series of forks in the road. Some of those forks are big decisions regarding positive moments (e.g. should I marry, move, have a child), while others face us in our darkest times. In those dark times, we have to remember that what feels horrible and insurmountable today will not be there forever. Whether that “horrible” is an unhappy marriage, a feeling of loneliness, the pain of an injustice, a tragic loss or a seemingly unforgivable mistake—recognize that there are many options to choose from in terms of making things better. Do not blindly, impulsively or unconsciously go down the wrong path. The consequences of any fork in the road can be monumental, so take the time to choose the path that honors, rather than harms, humanity—your own or others’.
Challenge: When it comes to forks in the road, S-L-O-W D-O-W-N. Think before you turn and always do your best to choose the path with the brightest future for everyone involved.