Beyond The Road Most Traveled
By L. Lexie Tyus, L.I.S.W.

 

There’s a lovely Scottish ballad that goes something like “Oh, I’ll take the high road and you take the low road, and I’ll get to Scotland before ye…”   Many’s the poet or author whose words have sought to capture life’s meanings via the metaphor of “the road.”  It seems that we’re all trying to get “home”—whatever that means to us, and the road between here and there appears to be where we literally and figuratively can “find our  selves” 

            Many would argue that it’s not quite as simple as choosing between the high road and the low road.  What about the side roads, the back roads, the detours…?  What about the path of least resistance?  As fascinating as these complexities may be, let’s start with the assumption that there are basically only three roads open to us, and—since we know that “to be alive” implies motion—we’re going to choose to place ourselves on one of them at any given time.  Let’s say that the three are The High Road, The Low Road, and the Path of Least Resistance, Life itself, appears to conspire to give us multiple opportunities to choose our road, our direction.  It also gives to us, the opportunity to “choose again.”  And again.  And again.  Life is gracious that way.

            The Low Road is defined largely by previous passages and experiences.  It is frequently chosen out of fear or guilt.  Imagine trying to go forward by looking into a rearview mirror attached by a heavy apparatus to your shoulders. You can’t see ahead at all, as your only visual cues come from the past.  Frequent stumbles and constant uncertainty make it impossible to see the present, or where you are.  Cynicism, bitterness and frustration mark this road.  Vision obscured, there is little hope for joy or inspiration here.

            The Middle Road, or The Path of Least Resistance, is chosen when we get worn down by perceived failures and come not to care much.  It’s a colorless bland place, this middle road—negotiated rather like slogging through mud wearing ankle weights.  Everything looks pretty much the same here.  It’s marked by boredom and depression.  Admittedly, there are few defeats, but fewer yet, are any challenges and victories.  This is a dismal, plodding place.

            The High Road?  Ah, here’s a different place altogether.  This road resembles a highway.  It is well paved and maintained, and provides frequent clear signs to give guidance to the journeyer.  Marked by interesting twists and turns, this road goes steadily up.  More interesting yet, this road is one-way.  Previous passages become obscured almost immediately, leaving those who travel here to carry with them only the benefits and wisdom gleaned from where they’ve been.  Those on this road assist one another without hesitation.  Compassion and joy, dignity and integrity characterize this road and it travelers.

            So, to revisit the ballad: High road or Low road, we’ll all likely get to our Scotland, our destination.  The question is, on which road and what will we learn along the way.  The uncomfortable likelihood is that we’ll all occasionally choose the low road and go backwards, and we’ll all spend some time mucking along in the mud of the middle road. Which is the road most traveled?  The answer is up to each of us.

            Perhaps life’s greatest gift is that we always have the option of recalling who we really are and who we belong to.  It’s easiest to get up onto, and then stay on, the high road when we have been willing to go inward (some would call this “God-ward”).  When we go inward, we can nourish the all-important relationship with our self and our Creator. When we allow these deeper relationships to unfold, the tumults and dramas (i.e., the “twists and turns”) of life on the lower road will trouble us less, and we will be free to choose where we find our selves.  May we all come to find our selves and meet each other on the High Road.

 

L. Lexie Tyus, L.I.S.W. has maintained a private practice for 30 years in the Columbus area, providing counseling and psychotherapy to individuals and couples, specializing in Mood Disorders, Trauma, Addictions Aftercare, Spiritual Issues, and Work-Related Stress.  She also provides training in the Business and Professional Communities, focusing on Effective Management and Team Functioning.