On the road (not taken)

Are you one of the sheep? Or do you march to your own drummer? The road of life as a metaphor is an old one, perhaps the oldest one. How we ever choose the road we take is, I think, a mystery. There is always a lot of pressure–material, social, religious–to pick a road that produces optimum results–make a good living, everyone says. Take classes that will make you eligible for a high income job, a job with lots of social prestige, a job that will ensure a secure future. Though there is nothing unreasonable about this approach to life, chasing the brass ring, this road is often over-traveled by people who are giving little thought to either the road or the destination. The problem with metaphors is that they often over-simplify something that is really rather complex. The road of life is not one continuous asphalt ribbon without exits, potholes, delays, or road construction. The road of life is a bifurcating, complex series of stops, starts, and detours. There are also those who get lost or just drive off the road entirely. There are also all of the two-lane country roads, gravel roads, dead ends, and strange curves which have almost no traffic at all. It’s easier to stay on the freeway with all of the others, straight, obvious, no ambiguities or confusion, but is the superhighway the only pragmatic way to go? Or is pragmatism relevant at all? The road is a problematic metaphor because it is way too ambiguous to be meaningful. Whichever road you might take, pragmatism versus impractical, for example, is a subjective value judgment which has no real explanation. If one chooses to ignore the siren’s call of unbridled consumerism and an insatiable thirst for fame and power, then one decides to not participate in the savage ways of unfettered capitalism and the corporate scenarios that support it. To dedicate time and energy to thinking, contemplation, and philosophy is to seriously over-think the road or to ignore the road altogether. The hard question has to do with long term goals and how those goals impact your decision to follow the pack on the highway or to head out on your own, seeking new paths, going down strange byways, getting off the beaten track. Do you dare to be original, odd, non-conformist, iconoclast, anarchic, or unpredictable? It may not be as easy as you think.