Out of the ordinary

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

        —Robert Frost 

I've squatted in an empty basement. I've lived in a closet. I've lived in a van down by the river, and in residential hotels where ordinary folks wouldn't set foot inside. For several years I was a tenant in a series of shared houses, filled with friends and flatmates who became sort of an oddball family. All those were good times, with no regrets to speak of.

Certainly I'm no Robert Frost or Henry Thoreau. Most of my wanderings off the beaten path were half-assed and unsuccessful. I'm glad for every out-of-the-ordinary decision I've ever made, though. Even the time I tried living in the woods — ha! Short of death nobody could fail more flamboyantly that that, but it was fun.

And if I hadn't chosen those unusual options, well, I guess I would've made normal choices and led a more normal life. I'm certain I'd be earning more than I'm earning now. Maybe I'd own a house, instead of renting an apartment. A thousand maybes, but the most terrifying one is, maybe I never would've met my wife. She'd made a few out-of-the-ordinary decisions along her path, too, and then our paths converged.

I wouldn't rethink any of the choices that brought us together. No regrets. Not even one.

Now I'll be the boring old man imparting his alleged wisdom whether you want it or not, and most of it comes down to this:
The least important thing in the world is what strangers think of you, or what people think about what you're planning, or doing, or what you've done. It matters much more what you think. If you let society's notion of 'normal' set the boundaries, you've snipped away the most interesting options. Fences are for cattle, and walls are for prisons.

These days I'm old and gray and fat and lazy, and there's not much adventure left in me. I mostly stay at home, leaning back in my recliner under a warm blanket, licking popsicles and watching Amazon Prime, and keeping the heat set at a comfortable 72°. I remember living differently, though, and when those thought cross my mind, there's a smile on my face.



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