I am finally at an age where I am willing to admit that I’m an adult. (Insert jokes here.) Along the way there have been many surprises about what that means. What it entails. Near the top of that list is that there are lots of different paths to take in this life. 

Growing up it felt pretty straight forward. Go to school, go to college, get a job. In hindsight, this was just another thing I was wrong about. There are so many different paths people can take. I believe none of them are better than the others.

Even as I type that line I have all kinds of caveats that jump into my head. I admit there are certainly exceptions on all of us.

I spent many years under the outdated belief that I was competing (I do love me some competition) against people around me, people not around me, everyone “win.”  In fact I vividly remember one of my happiest thoughts when I got married was that now I had a teammate… and we had a strong team. (I still think we are a strong team.)

But even as a happily married person, I found myself getting frustrated with my life and I couldn’t figure out why. There was no clear cut victory like in the sports, which I played growing up. Back then, you won or lost. There were numbers to tell you how well you did. Not a whole lot of room to argue with the results. (Though I tried.) The same was true in school. If I got a good grade, I was winning. If I didn’t, I wasn’t. Clear cut stuff.

Then all of sudden, it was confusing. Now how do I win?  What were the benchmarks? Was it how much money I’m making? How big the house is? What kind of car we have? Was it how much time we have with our kids or how well behaved they were? How many friends we had or how many vacations we too?.  Maybe it was my job title or respect of my coworkers. Being in shape or not? 

I was trying to win at all of these. All the time. None of it was making me happy, nor was it sustainable. I was competing against people who didn’t even know they were playing (which is not unusual for me, I used to race people walking down the street). I was used to competing constantly. But this was a different game. And I “knew this” but was never really able to articulate it until we took this trip. 

We stepped off the conveyor belt and I felt like there was a much better view of the whole situation. They say the first step in finding a solution is understanding the problem. I have a better grasp of the problem now. We are all playing different games. In order to “win” it’s about figuring out what makes us happy. Then we do our best to get there. Along the way, help others do what makes them happy and everyone wins.

Pushing pause on our lives and taking this adventure is impacting us all in ways we didn’t anticipate.  Maybe it is a moment in our life that changes the trajectory. Maybe it is the road less traveled.

Regardless, it seems that Robert Frost was onto something. So was Joseph Campbell. “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”

Us 5 ~ with love

Jonathan Gordon