The Road Most Traveled
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
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.
Lexie Tyus, L.I.S.W. has
maintained a private practice for 30 years in the