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Keep Your Fork

Struggles can become our most beautiful souvenirs.

Key points

  • When one faces a fork in the road, they can find unexpected excitement in the new path or choose to remain stuck.
  • Hope requires positive thinking.
  • There will always be new roads to discover, but it is up to the individual to find their rewards.

Picture a cartoon showing a newborn baby emerging from the womb. He rubs his eyes, looks up at the doctor, and utters two words: “Now what?”

Confusion, uncertainty, and anxiety can occur at any time and at any age and can even become downright insidious and painful. Experts in human behavior have long theorized that being squeezed from our mother’s uterus is one of the most traumatic incidents of our lifetime. Everything as we had formally known it is suddenly gone. Those weeks and months of calm and quiet, sheltered in the lazy, guilt-free privacy of the womb, are ripped away when a doctor’s cold rubber glove grabs us and pulls us into the glaring light of this harsh reality called life. We literally get slapped into a new world.

This moment of birth is a hint of what is to come: a series of constant disruptions, which push us out of our preferred comfort zone. Is it fair? Is life fair? Of course not, and that is the best gift we could have. After all, if our quality of life was determined by our own comfort, we would never leave the womb, and then what would we do with all the shower presents and those adorable onesies?

Let’s take that scenario one step further. As a newborn, we instantly become one of the most beautiful gifts a mother and father could ever imagine. We are tenderly wrapped up in a warm, soft blanket and loved by everyone who holds us. It’s shocking and unfamiliar, and it’s the beginning of love and life. Imagine that. Had we never left the womb; we would never experience love. Or Disneyland. Or Netflix.

Being forced out of our comfort zone can be a glorious gift and childbirth is our first proof of that. But do not disregard the difficulty. When faced with any type of horribly uncomfortable situation, go ahead and scream and cry as hard as you possibly can, just like you did on your original birthday. That type of behavior is natural and even necessary. But then, as if to add insult to injury, and just when you think the trauma has passed, someone slaps you on the bottom. Finally, when you’re well swaddled and hear your mother singing a sweet lullaby, you can finally relax. It’s never truly over until the fat lady sings.

Source: moritz320/Pixabay

We all encounter struggles. They might arrive in the form of an illness, a divorce, the death of a loved one, a job loss, an addiction, or pick a struggle, any struggle. They often harshly slap us.

The healing process includes grief, acceptance, and moving forward. When it comes to moving forward, it’s important to remember that doing so is a choice. When we reach a fork in the road, we can try to return to the life we had, which may no longer be available, or we can change lanes and begin a new way of thinking. That usually begins with an exploration of why the struggle originally happened. Digging for answers often prompts a few central questions.

  • What was the trauma meant to bring into my life?
  • Why did this happen?
  • What am I supposed to learn from it?

The difficulties, of course, come without warning. The rewards come through discovering appropriate lessons and flourishing.

If there’s one basic thing I’ve learned, it’s this: Problems don’t happen to us. They happen for us.

So, when we reach any type of fork in the road, we can find unexpected excitement in the exploration of new paths, or we can choose to remain stuck. We can let a traumatic experience shut us down or we can allow it to expand our character as we discover a new future.

Whether the new path is successful is never guaranteed. It could possibly lead to another fork in the road. The best part comes with following a new adventure, as doing so can provide hope all by itself. Hope requires positive thinking, and that suggests a huge step forward.

The title of this post, “Keep Your Fork,” is a metaphor, based on the similarities of being at a crossroad in your life and the moments between courses in a meal. I don’t know about you, but I love desserts, so this perspective always resonates. You finish one course and hold on to your fork, anticipating the sweetness of the next one.

Let’s take the metaphor to another stage. Let’s see if you can define exactly where you are in your struggle by answering these questions:

  1. What is your empty plate? What are you losing? What is being taken away from you?
  2. What is your fork? What are you holding onto that you have previously learned? What gives you hope?
  3. What is your napkin? Who and what can you count on to catch you if and when you fall?
  4. What is the dessert that is coming? What is on the menu for your future?

This is your time. When you come to a roadblock where the delicious dinner is over and you think that nothing will ever taste good again, hang on to your fork. Read your menu. It’s right there in front of you. There is still a wonderful sweet treat to come.

There have been times in my own life when the waiter came back and told me that my dessert choice was no longer available, and I had to review the menu and find another way forward. He never took my fork from me, but I had to hold it a little longer than anticipated.

No one else can find your new life. There are always new roads to discover and explore, but only you get to find your rewards. Otherwise, they are not rewarding.

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