“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I– | I took the one less traveled by, | And that has made all the difference” – Robert Frost
We only have ourselves to blame.
The most commonly held bias in American is that someone is ALWAYS responsible; someone must ALWAYS take the blame.
And here we have a volatile area of reflection. Even the well-intended statement, “He can who thinks he can,” is often mis-translated into “He can who thinks he can … if he chooses to be responsible.”
Our ability to do most anything, — even those things commonly called “personal growth” — are increasingly seen as statements of “willing responsibility.” How much does it mean to us? How much are we willing to assume responsibility for our actions … even when it is clear they are “unintended”?
The problem with this type of “responsiblity” thinking is that it leaves no space for unintended growth.
Whatever we give our conscious thought and attention to is often influenced by some unintended need, one that invites us — unwillingly — to grow in some unexpected way.
The trap here, of course, is that if we put too much emphasis on being conscious about everything we do, we will be unable to do the very things which are most in need of doing.
Sometimes we really need a touch of willing irresponsibility, a willingness to look past an unexpected situation, a willingness to divert the need to assign blame and responsibility, AND a strong sense of courage about our own unwillingness to look at all the mixed set of feelings which are unintentionally created.
The familiar adage — “He can who thinks he can” — is a joyous expression of positive motivation and movement towards one’s goals. Visioning, harnessed by focused attention and positive shifts in awareness, produces a greater willingness to act. But this movement towards a goal is always a function of attachment and desire; and — in that — they point us toward a deeper understanding of what we are called to do.
AND that does not mean the unintended is any less productive or persuasive. Just well … unintended.
Our unintended path of growth comes out of the relationships and innocent beliefs that we carry without complete awareness. Our unintended path of growth asks us “look at” what we normally cannot see … simply because we are much too close. Part of what we are called to do falls within the bounds of conscious awareness, and some falls outside.
Look at the following statements. Do they seem limiting? If you were to believe them completely, how would they influence your willingness to act?
- The voice of authority is more important than my voice.
- A penny saved is a penny earned.
- Hard work yields success – every time.
- Leave no stone unturned or you will short change yourself.
What’s amazing about each statement is that the path of unintended growth will be the exact opposite. The voice of authority must eventually be OURS; giving generously teaches us the value of our savings; the lazy work of doing nothing is a necessary springboard for creativity; the future is never the sum of our available options.
Each statement points to “some awareness” that has been shut off or closed away. And it’s impossible to be 100% self-aware. Something piece of awareness will always be missing.
So the path of unintended growth, (just like the adage, “he can who thinks he can”) must not be only our conscious attention and belief, it also must be our willingness to stay open and questioning, to be wiser than the common sense which forces us to close off the very thing we most want to do.
Robert Frost once wrote: “I took the one less traveled by, | And that has made all the difference.” Here, you could not find a greater advocate for the unintended path. Making the choice to do the very thing you want to do, without any particular reason.
Thanks for listening!