Last night I had a dream.
It was about my high school reunion. Something I never attended, so I’m not sure why I
dreamt about it. To me, reunions like that are about some form of measurement.
Everyone there is trying to stand up straight and hold in their stomach. Hoping
to stack up against others who might have been voted Most Likely to Succeed
or Least Likely
. eek! I want no part of that.
The first reunion invitation I received was for my five-year reunion. Even
at that young age I was not naive enough to believe that five years was enough
time to achieve anything of import. And my personal plans were more of a long
game. There was no way I was going to that reunion because I knew that the
conventional place where I grew up would judge me harshly. My family already
thought I was strange. And high schoolers – even five years on – weren’t going
to come up with a kinder assessment. Never mind.
Robert Frost’s Biggest Fan
From an early age, I could clearly see that going in the same direction as
the crowd meant you would never do anything interesting. Just exactly what they
were all doing. And it was boring. In high school, I cut my own hair, pierced
my own ears, and generally invented my own unusual – ok, sometimes embarrassing
the my family -fashion sense, which I have now unleashed on the small pueblo of
Melide in Galicia. I can’t say they love it. Or even understand it. But that is
because they don’t understand where I came from. The 1980’s in suburban
America. You’re welcome, Melidites!
Growing up, I always felt like I didn’t belong. Even in my own house. But in
a good way. I knew I would leave and never look back. And in school it was no
different. I knew these were not my people. We would not be friends after
graduation. We would not push our children down the sidewalk together in
matching strollers. I knew this because I would be living on the other side of
the world. Maybe not right away, but it would happen. Because the thought of
staying within 200 miles of where I grew up was soul crushing. I had things to
do and none of them could be done locally.
I remember my high school English literature teacher assigned me Robert
Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken
. At a fork in the road he looks
at the well-worn path, then at the other one covered in long grass. The one few
have tread. And he chooses.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
It was a revelation to a teenager looking for validation. Choosing to take a
path others never consider is, in fact, the right path. It was as if this poet was
telling me, it was OK. I was OK. Not strange. Not crazy. I was like him, and I
could choose. I had this poem engraved on a brass compass and I gave it to my
son, Nick, as a gift. I am not sure if he appreciated what those words meant to me or
what I was trying to convey to him. But this poem changed my life and my
perspective. I wanted him to know that we can all choose.
Today, on the farm we had the production team of an Australian movie that is
filming on the Camino. An exciting project. I can’t tell you how wonderful it
was to have them here. I love being around people who dream big, then execute.
I don’t like the talking part. I like the doing. And these folks are doing it.
But, more than that they are extraordinary people. I felt as if I knew them
instantly, and their director and I quickly entered into a deep conversation
about what the Camino means, the energy and the subtext. The pillars of life.
It was intense. It was after they left it hit me. Not once did they ask Jeff or
myself why we moved here or why we were doing what we are doing. They didn’t
have to because they already intuitively knew.
‘You live on a river of energy you plug into.’ Bill, the director, told me
matter-of-factly. Not a question. A statement. As if this couldn’t be clearer.
Remarkable. And I’m not sure any of them understood just how extraordinary this
is for me.
I am a fan of the sharp left turn. If everyone is going right, I am going in
the opposite direction. Doing things that people will often tell me I can’t do,
or I’m crazy to do. Leave a job. Take a different one. Move house. Move across
the world. Start a business. I’ve heard ‘You’re doing what?!’ or from friends
‘People ask me – What’s Kelli doing?!’ too many times to count. But I pay them
no mind. You can’t explain yourself and what you’re doing if other people can’t
see it. And, frankly, the older I get, I’m not interested in trying. But to be
around those who don’t even ask, because they don’t have to, is remarkable.
I knew the moment I met Jeff that he was the same as me. His sister-in-law
once told me ‘You guys are always doing something unusual.’ I’m not sure it was
a compliment – but I decided to take it as one. And my Mom was shocked I
married introverted Jeff. ‘He’s a nerd.’ But what she didn’t understand was
and well considered
doesn’t equal boring
It just means he make moves that no one sees right away. Until they turn around
and he’s already done what other people, mainly extroverts, are still just talking
about. As I said, I prefer doing
I’m sure there are more sharp left turns in our future. The unexpected, but
not unplanned. We’ll strap on our boots, once again, at the fork in the road,
taking the one into the tall grass. But I prefer that. It’s quieter there. A
place to think and dream as we progress. On a destination to where fewer
travel. And along the way we’ll meet our people. Those who have chosen the same
overgrown road. No explanations required. And that will make all the difference.
4 thoughts on “The Sharp Left Turn”
Love this! So true. It’s also reminding me that I should go rewatch ‘The Breakfast Club’ again for probably the 6th time. The road less traveled, the “weird” is how people tend to label anything different/special, and the value of risk-taking. It’s so easy to get complacent and ‘comfortable’, when I want to be experiencing life and having wider impact than just the amorphous quarterly OKRs at work 🙂 Super enjoy living vicariously through your blog and adventures, temporarily — while working towards our own new adventures for the future.
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A kindred spirit! Yes! To the Breakfast Club. Should be mandatory viewing for all ‘teenagers’ and adults who forgot the value of being weird. 😉
As you know, Gary (the quiet and nerdy one) and I have taken many left forks. When people asked, but what if it goes wrong, our response was always ‘we’ll jump off that bridge when we get to it’. We haven’t jumped yet.
Keep taking the one less travelled route ❤️
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