I’ve been wrestling with some gut-wrenching career and life decisions. Robert Frost’s poem about the road not taken has never resonated so powerfully with me.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
Way leads on to way. One small step points us in a unique direction– a direction with the potential to determine our destination. Ultimately all we know is the fire that blazes in our hearts, the one that will not be snuffed out regardless the challenges ahead. This is the way of adventure.
It’s easy to equate living adventurously with choosing a glamorous career or even an uncommon community. Adventure is a word that carries the burden of lore– whether slaying dragons, capturing criminals or overcoming great odds.
But I’ve been tripped up by this notion of adventure. The journey does not have to involve airplanes, passports, or life-threatening danger. An adventurer moves in the direction of her calling. She says yes to the right things. She stands up at the right time.
Saying yes and standing up means something unique to each person. Others can point us to it, shake us until we realize it, or encourage us to pursue it, but only we can know what it is. Each step we take can bring us closer toward the adventure for which we were created, or away from it. We can listen to that calling, or we can silence it.
Are you overwhelmed? Let me share a story. A woman named Cherry lives in Ethiopia. Growing up there, she enjoyed the privileges of a stable family and good education. Many women in Ethiopia are not so fortunate, and a growing population find themselves destitute. Left with no other option, these women end up working the streets as prostitutes.
Cherry had compassion for vulnerable women of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and she decided to start a recovery program for them. She told the story of the day she felt overwhelmed with the desire to change the lives of trafficked women in her country. She mourned the fate of 18,000 women who, at that time, were believed to be in the throes of prostitution. She felt helpless in the face of such numbers.
Don’t worry just yet about the 18,000, someone told her. Just worry about the one right before you. Care for her.
One little step followed by another, and Cherry was on her way to becoming one of the most influential women in Addis Ababa. Adventure did not start with rescuing 18,000 women. It started with responding to one. Just one.
Choose your adventure by taking one step forward. Care for what you have, and eventually you will be given more.