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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do All Roads Lead Here?

Do you ever have the feeling that you would’ve ended up where you are today regardless of the paths you’ve chosen and the decisions you’ve made?

In the past, I’ve thought of my life as a sinuous trail with forks and offshoots that offer different possibilities for my life. At certain junctures, turning right instead of left or taking the uphill as opposed to the downhill has led me to where I am today. In my mind, my life path has looked like a family tree, continually branching off, each decision leading to another and another.

However, now I’m not so sure that’s how it works.

Sinuous Life Path
I wonder if we actually choose our destiny or if it chooses us. Is it possible that in spite of the choices we make, in some way or another, we eventually end up where we were always meant to be. This idea I’m formulating doesn’t, of course, preclude freewill and choice, it just seems that there are some greater forces at play, like a large magnet that continually pulls us toward a certain life.

The final two lines of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost—“I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference”—are commonly used to support the idea that taking the unconventional route leads to great things; however, it turns out that in previous lines Frost says something quite different. He writes that in his old age, he will say that it made all the difference, but chances are the paths were pretty similar. Could that really be true? Are the paths we choose between not really as different as we think? Would I have ended up where I am today regardless?

 Christmas Ornament from 1982
Me as a Young Girl
While decorating my Christmas tree last week, I made a surprising discovery. In many ways, despite supposed transformations and various life experiences, I’m the exact same person I was as a young child. Every year since I was born my mom has given me a Christmas ornament. Usually she chooses it and wraps it for me to open on Christmas morning. For some reason, when I was five years old, she let me pick out my own ornament. The one I chose was made up of little wooden spoons and a rolling pin. I distinctly remember being at the mall and falling in love with the ornament. My mom tried to convince me to choose one of the prettier ones, but I was adamant. I wanted the cooking one. Was it chance that I would be so attracted to this particular ornament or was it fate?

Often when I look back on my life, I think about the moments that seemed to be turning points, times in my life when another decision would have seemingly sent me in a completely different direction. But I wonder whether or not those moments were really as pivotal as I imagined. Is it inevitable that the interests and passions we possessed as children propel us toward our eventual destiny, despite the detours we take along the way? Throughout my life I’ve done many different things, yet it seems I keep coming back to the very things my five year-old self was drawn to so many years ago.

What are your passions? Did you have these interests as a child? If not, were there things you enjoyed as a child that pushed you in the direction of your current life? Are there parts of your young self that you’ve denied while trying to take the path seemingly less traveled? What steps could you take today to reawaken those latent interests and rekindle that particular destiny?


Tahini Balls
One of my earliest memories involves crawling into the upper kitchen cabinets—with the aid of a chair—and pulling down random ingredients, which I mixed together to make what I called “Tahini Balls.” They were a concoction of tahini, cocoa powder, peanut butter, honey, coconut, and whatever else I could pilfer. Barely old enough to walk or talk, but I was already blending and mixing. The following recipe is my attempt at recreating those tasty treats from my first foray into cooking.

I must mention…I was raised without wheat, dairy, or refined sugar, so these little balls seemed quite decadent to me at the time.

The next time you need a pick-me up, eat a few of these instead of candy or a store bought energy bar!

Makes about 20 nickel-sized balls

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbs. tahini
2 tbs. honey
3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

In a small bowl, cream the peanut butter and tahini with the honey and cocoa. Using your palms, roll the mixture into small, nickel-sized balls. Put the coconut on a small plate and roll each ball in the coconut. Chill for a few hours or overnight. This will make them firmer and less sticky.