Do you remember those books as a child, the “choose your own adventure” ones? Who knew the lessons they were teaching us...
So easily can I slip back into my 10-year-old self, curled up in bed with that musty library book smell and faded-ink return date, balancing on the precipice of a page turn. Deliberating the choice that would send my adventurous little avatar with all his dreams ahead of him, down the road to the dark forest floor or up to the highest of heights amongst the treetops.
Whatever the choice, even as a child, a level of anxiety would creep in and hold me still, motionless. I could go a good 15 minutes (an eternity at that age) analysing my options, weighing up the potentials and still unable to make a decision. Until I did… and then…
Did I make the right one?
What would his life have been like if I went the other way – page 35 instead of 63?
Hmmm, should I start again?
Choice is a Constant
Now with the wisdom of hindsight, I realise the adventure never stopped and choice was the only constant. When you came to the so called “end”, you could start all over again and magically create a whole new world of mystery, experience and delight. The same fears and indecision would present themselves, and yet, the crux of the outcome would always remain unchanged. I still – no matter the choices I had made that lead me to the experiences I had had, good or bad – was able to start again and choose another adventure; create another story.
Do you see how this can be a metaphor for our own lives? Those books were like a training ground had we known it at the time.
The Never-Ending Story
Every choice leads to another adventure. It’s a never-ending cycle to a never-ending story. The fear of one choice may lead to the pure elation of the next... never seen if you didn’t make the first.
We either ‘choose’ and step into the blissful unknown, embracing all that is exciting and scary, or we stay stuck holding the page of life, frozen. Boredom and mundanity dance on the page margin as we push pause on who we are and what we could experience. Folding over the corner, we bookmark our life, to be revisited when we next find the courage or decisiveness to choose again.
Time to Reflect on your own Adventure
Reflecting upon your life, I'd encourage you to look at the stages in your life when you have been there flipping pages with vigour to when you have put the book down completely?
How have you felt during these times?
What were the adventures you experienced?
For me personally, I know the page turning times are the ones that have bought me the most joy and undeniably, the most fear. But when compared with the bookmarked times, I’ve at least felt alive. That there is more to life, more to come and more to dream. It provided the momentum to keep choosing, even when from despair or denial.
The most profound times I’ve found however are those between books… when you can search the shelves, choose a whole new story and start again from the beginning!
Where are you currently in your own book of life?