#FinishThatThought 45 : You Should’ve Stayed On The Path

“You should’ve stayed on the path.”

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard those words. It wouldn’t be the last. I’d make certain of that. “No.”

Tim gave me that exasperated look. You know. The one people give you when you are different from them, don’t share their values, or their view of life. “What about your future? Your career?”

“My career, as you know it, is dead.” I always loved seeing someone’s face when I said such inflammatory things. To me, they were normal things to say. Truthful things to say. To someone like Tim, they were disruptive, intimidating, aggressive, and scary.

“You don’t mean that.”

I laughed. “Yeah. I do.”

“You’ll be throwing everything away.”

“I’d explain everything,” I smiled, and shook my head, “but you’d never understand.”

“Try me.”

How do you tell someone they are walking along a path to a dead-end? How do you explain to someone they’re doing what their parents did. What their grandparents did. What their great grandparents did. Generation, after generation. The same path. The same life. The same pursuits, passions, goals, definitions.

“I told you once,” I knew trying to explain was useless, “everyone here, you, the people who work for you, the people you work for. You’re all the same. The same dreams, goals, hopes, fears, everything.” It was really sad to think about it. To understand how Tim didn’t even know.

“You know that feeling you get sometimes? The one you get when you look in the mirror? The one that doesn’t last long, maybe a minute, maybe less? The one that says everything’s wrong?” I had to laugh. “Yes, Tim. I know about that feeling. The one you never can admit it there. The one you can never feel.”

Tim sat there. He didn’t speak. He didn’t move. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he stopped breathing, and if his heart stopped beating.

“Yeah, Tim. That one. The one that says everything is wrong.”

“You should have stayed on the path.”

“I know, Tim. It’s what we do. We stay on the path. We behave.” I couldn’t tell him what he already knew. How we what we’re supposed to do. Be what we’re supposed to. Get married. Have a family. Buy a house. Buy cars. Have a respectable job, and a steady, predictable income. Be in control of life. With everything organized. Everything planned. Just like our parents. And, by God, that’s how we’ll make our children.

“That’s why I’ve left the path. And I’m not coming back.”

Too bad Tim would never understand.

427 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 45 of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

Time Only Flows One Way

I remember asking her
What she wanted.
I remember what she answered.
“I want my life back.”

Such a simple wish.
A wish I know
She’ll never have.

This world is not static.
It changes.
All the time.
Every day.

Study time.
The best we understand
Right now.
Time only flows one way.
Forward.
And it may well be
There’s no going back.

Let’s be honest here.
She had breast cancer.
The surgeries.
The chemotherapy.
There is no way her world,
Her life,
Can ever be the same.
No matter how much
She tries to make it.

There is no going back.

She believes there is.
Like so many people
I have known.
So many I know now.

Like the one that’s divorced.
He left her
With their child.
To raise on her own.
I don’t care how you look at it.
She’s not who she was then.
She’s changed.

I suppose I could
Argue with myself
That what people really mean
When they say those words,
“I want my life back,”
Is that they really want
To be happy once again.
To feel safe.
To feel loved.
To feel whole.

The way they once did.

I wish I had some way
To explain to them
What I know now.
What I’ve learned.
Having walked through hell.
Having lost everything,
Save for my family.
And those few people I call
True friends.

Having had to make a choice
To start my life over
From the ashes of what was.

Was there any doubt
That I could not return?
My doctor knew.
My children knew.
My love knew too.
And deep down,
Even I knew.

I could not return
To the life I’d had.
To the work I’d done.
Because of one simple truth.

I’ve changed.

I know how that life works, now.
Why people do the things they do
In that land of gray.
That land of work.

I understand what was said to me
Back then.
When I didn’t understand at all
How that world worked.

And each day I ask the universe,
How badly are they hurt?
And will they ever know?

My soul cries tears of pain,
And my heart aches once again,
When I hear the answer
From the universe.
For most of them.
It’s no.

They’ll believe,
Like they do now.
That nothing’s wrong.
That everything’s the way
It’s meant to be.

And they’ll do anything
To keep the life they have.
The house.
The car.
The things.
The trappings of success.

It’s the way that world is.
The way it works.
Do what you have to.
Put up with the rules.
Put up with the politics.
Become a human resource.
And expendable part
In an economic machine.
So you can get the things you want.
And be safe.
And be secure.

Because that defines
Happiness.

And I can’t ever live
In that world again.
That’s why I can’t go back.

I see that world for what it is.

I’d rather have a new life.
A true life.
Where people matter.
Their hopes.
Their fears.
Their dreams.
Their wishes.

A world where people matter.
Where they care
For each other.
And aren’t afraid
Of what the company will think
If they take the time
To help a friend in need.
Of what the people around them
Will do.
How those people
Will behave.

I’ve abandoned that world.
It’s too much like the churches
I’ve abandoned too.

Where you have to be the same.
Feel the same.
Act the same.
Have the same values,
And beliefs.

I told my doctor, Monday,
The words she’d said to me.
And then I laughed
At the thought
Someone would want to go back
To how things used to be.

And then I couldn’t talk.
It was so very sad to me
That someone couldn’t really see
Things can never be the same.
That time only flows one way.

I can’t go back.
Even if I wanted to.
And I don’t want to
At all.

I’ll go with the flow
Of time.
And see what it is
The future holds
For me.

Because unlike what she said to me.
I don’t want my life back.
That life’s dead and gone.
It’s in my past.

I’ll keep moving on.
Making a new path.
In this new life
The universe
Has given me.

Finding My Wings : For Amy

Tonight,
I make this wish.
A wish for a friend.
A simple wish
For I have learned,
Those are the best wishes
Of all.

I wish  for you tonight
To find your heart and soul.
Your self.
The you that life intended
To bless this world with
On the day your were born.

It won’t be easy.
I speak from experience.
But that’s not really the point.
Nor is finding that answer
To the question
“Who am I?”

It’s a question I’ve been asking
Of this life
More than twice as long
As you’ve been alive.
And I truly don’t know
If there’s an answer
At all.

But I’ve learned.
It’s not the answer
That matters.
It’s the journey.
The walk.
And all the things that happen
On the way.

It was almost 2 years ago
When the journey I am on
Changed dramatically.
I’ve told you that before.
And that change
Was wrought with pain.
More than I have ever known.

But it seems to me
Sometimes
Pain is what we have to face
To take the next step
Down the path
Of the journey
Each of us is on.

I know to many souls
That stopped walking
Long ago.
The pain got in the way.
And they became afraid.
And settled for staying
Where they were.

They haven’t changed.
They haven’t grown.
In years.
Some of them in decades.

I know this to be true.
Not so very long ago
I was one of them.

But you,
My friend,
Have not let fear
Stop you.

I can’t imagine
What it took
To take the step
You took this week.

I wish I could tell you
What it is you’ll find
On this journey you are on.
But I know I can’t.
For it’s your journey to take
Not mine.

Life’s like that.
We’re each different.
We each walk
A different path.

But I’ve seen you take
Your next big step
Along the way.
And I can‘t help but feel
It was so hard to do.
And I can’t help but know
It’s what you heart told you
You had to do.

And that’s good enough for me.

Follow your heart,
Dear friend.
For written in your heart
Is the story of the path
Life wished for you
On the day
You were born.

If you listen carefully.
It will never lie to you.
It will simply be your guide
In life.

On your journey
To find you.

Tonight,

I make this wish.

A wish for a friend.

A simple wish

For I have learned,

Those are the best wishes

Of all.

I wish  for you tonight

To find your heart and soul.

Your self.

The you that life intended

To bless this world with

On the day your were born.

It won’t be easy.

I speak from experience.

But that’s not really the point.

Nor is finding that answer

To the question

“Who am I?”

It’s a question I’ve been asking

Of this life

More than twice as long

As you’ve been alive.

And I truly don’t know

If there’s an answer

At all.

But I’ve learned.

It’s not the answer

That matters.

It’s the journey.

The walk.

And all the things that happen

On the way.

It was almost 2 years ago

When the journey I am on

Changed dramatically.

I’ve told you that before.

And that change

Was wrought with pain.

More than I have ever known.

But it seems to me

Sometimes

Pain is what we have to face

To take the next step

Down the path

Of the journey

Each of us is on.

I know to many souls

That stopped walking

Long ago.

The pain got in the way.

And they became afraid.

And settled for staying

Where they were.

They haven’t changed.

They haven’t grown.

In years.

Some of them in decades.

I know this to be true.

Not so very long ago

I was one of them.

But you,

My friend,

Have not let fear

Stop you.

I can’t imagine

What it took

To take the step

You took this week.

I wish I could tell you

What it is you’ll find

On this journey you are on.

But I know I can’t.

For it’s your journey to take

Not mine.

Life’s like that.

We’re each different.

We each walk

A different path.

But I’ve seen you take

Your next big step

Along the way.

And I can‘t help but feel

It was so hard to do.

And I can’t help but know

It’s what you heart told you

You had to do.

And that’s good enough for me.

Follow your heart,

Dear friend.

For written in your heart

Is the story of the path

Life wished for you

On the day

You were born.

If you listen carefully.

It will never lie to you.

It will simply be your guide

In life.

On your journey

To find you.