Life Path Choice

Do we always choose the road or does it also choose us? I mean a metaphorical road, a life path. Is our relationship with the path more like with a person or an object?

If I want an object, I can go and get it, provided there are no obstacles. The object will have no say in this. We are very used to such one-way interaction with things around us. I wake up and take a shower, put my clothes on, drink a cup of coffee, and so on. It would really surprise me if any part of this routine were altered because one or several of the objects involved (showerhead, toothbrush, clothes, cup, coffee, spoon) would try to escape me or in any way make it hard to get to them. One-way interaction: I chose an object, I take it. It does not choose me.

With people it’s different. Even if I long for someone very much indeed and do all I can to win their affection, they still may decide differently. Or not even notice me. Relationships between people always have a two-way direction. If I forget about it and try treating another person as a thing that I can simply select and take (one-way), I will soon be taught a painful lesson of the proper ‘traffic rules’.

So how is it with life paths? What are the rules there? Am I justified in simply choosing my preferred road and expecting it to be available to me as long as I go after it and do my best? In other words, if I don’t succeed, it means I didn’t try hard enough. Just like if I didn’t succeed taking a shower in the morning, it’s probably because I didn’t get up early enough and was running late. In a one-way relationship, it’s all on me. Or would I be more justified in approaching the life path choice as a two-way interaction, akin to a relationship with another person? In this case, the path also has a say in the whole thing.

Although it may seem strange to think of paths having any sort of agency, this is a metaphor, just like calling it a ‘life path’ is a metaphor. Whatever a life path is, it is much more complex than an actual, literal road. My choice plays a role, of course, but there is more to it. A lot more. Many circumstances that are beyond my control and that I cannot even imagine. If I choose to become a teacher and set out on this path, there is no guarantee that I will actually be a teacher. Even if my efforts are tantamount to moving mountains.

It is like with another person. I can burn with desire, ambition and jump out of my skin for their affection, but I still may end up with nothing. Not because I didn’t try hard enough. Rather, because a relationship with a person is not the same as with a thing. In a two-way interaction, there needs to be a mutual connection to move forward.

It seems to me that my choice of a life path is more similar to a relationship with a person. It’s not enough that I choose the path. The path also needs to choose me. How we call the path’s choice differs – luck, destiny, faith, blessing, karma, misfortune, curse etc. – but, just like in relationships with people, it’s not all just about our effort.

keep exploring!

One thought on “Life Path Choice

  1. Pingback: Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha” on Seeking and Finding – humanfactor

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