Should you stay or should you leave; accept an offer, or not; go in one direction that invites you forward, or another? We each stand at meaningful crossroads sometimes, needing to make difficult choices that could affect our Life Story either greatly or somewhat “ever after.”
You could start by listing some stories that include significant choices, especially if those choices are like yours.
Here’s the idea: find a story or list a set of stories in which a character is faced with a similar choice and consider what direction the character takes, whether it works out well or not, and how you feel about the character’s choice and its results. Would you have made the same decision in the character’s shoes, or not?
To model the approach, here are some stories I might currently list along with brief synopses of the choices involved in the story:
- Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse: Stay home in a pampered, sheltered environment with expectations of an easy, privileged existence, or leave his father’s safe and opulent world to experience humanity and the world in all its misery, and splendor.
- Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken: that he took the less traveled path most others would not have chosen, “and that has made all the difference.”
- Defending Your Life: The Mel Brooks character often chose the least risk or the safest course of action rather than the bravest, so he is judged harshly between lives; versus the Meryl Streep character, who always chose the riskier path in service to life and others. She will certainly be “moving on.”
- Lost Horizon: Robert Conway must choose between life in the world as a well-known and respected public servant, or to follow his heart and forge a difficult passage to return to Shangri-La, where spiritual enlightenment, potential for solitary but global service, and love await his return.
- The Razor’s Edge: Again, life in the familiar world of home and normative community values versus a more solitary life seeking to develop and share the fruits of spiritual exploration.
My story choices are much of a piece, I see, in that the characters face similar challenges contrasting normative community lives of ‘getting by’ in a respectable, easy fashion, or stepping off into an out of the ordinary life of more solitary spiritual adventure. On which path can they achieve deeper enlightenment pairs with which path will lead to greater opportunities for unique service though in less guaranteed or publicly acknowledged and sanctioned modes.
This exercise elevates, for me, the nature of a meaningful crossroads I am at personally, and that is helpful. The set of synopses are contemplation seeds that help to reveal many angles on some of my own current underlying questions. I have found over the last few days of contemplating these stories that I have gained a much greater clarity about my path forward, while also my understanding of the messages in these stories has deepened.
In some sense we are all of us always at a crossroads; which path stretching out before us shall we choose today? Sometimes these choices become more meaningful as we seek to advance in our lives overall.
So please, if you like, try this one on for yourself. The right panel Better Endings Story Seed prompt encourages you to contemplate or engage with this technique in your own journal.
Story plotlines can be misleading. When a writer writes a story about a character who must choose between a “regular” life and and adventure, their character always chooses the adventure be cause if they didn’t, there would’t be a story. But sometimes it can be best to choose the regular life, because, for some people, that is the way of fulfillment and where they can be of the most service.
It’s a tough choice, and the answer is different for everyone.
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wise words, Clavielle
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