Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Today’s piece is not the one I had intended to post. Planning to link up with Monday Listicles on the topic of “roads,” my original piece was a list of the characteristics that we need as we embark on “the road less traveled” at various times in our lives. What I had hoped would be an uplifting and inspiring piece ended up as something sappy and dull.
So I was back to square one.
I scrapped the original post and reconsidered my options. Maybe a list of inspiring songs about travel and journey? Maybe a list of popular quotes about exploration, adventure, and risk? Maybe a list of places that I would like to visit in my lifetime? Or a list of those places that I have visited to which I never, ever want to return?
As I considered all of the options, I was reminded of something that I had recently read in Tina Fey’s book Bossypants. There is a section (pages 84-85, if you’re wondering) in which she compares the rules of improvisational comedy to general life rules. One such rule, she says, is that “there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents.” Sometimes it is necessary to accept that our plan is not working, regroup, change direction, and chart a new course.
Her sage advice made me think about all of the people, aside from the obvious family and friends, of course (you know who you are), who I would want to take along in my backpack should I ever venture down the “road less traveled.” And so, here is my list of the Top 10 People I Want In My “Road Less Traveled” Backpack. My Plan B, if you will. My “beautiful happy accident.”
- Tina Fey. Her quiet determination, practical perspectives, and wise insights on everything from parenting and career to fashion and beauty would serve as an example of what it takes to succeed as a woman in today’s society without sacrificing one’s femininity, intellect, or authenticity.
- Karen Armstrong. After seven years of service as a Catholic nun, Karen Armstrong left the Catholic Church to embark on an introspective and educated spiritual journey. Since then she has adopted a liberal, socially aware faith. To date, she has written more than 20 books on faith and the world’s major religions, including Through the Narrow Gate, The Spiral Staircase, The Case for God, and Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.
- Eckhart Tolle. I have little doubt that Mr. Tolle would keep me focused on the present so that I could learn from my past in order to accomplish my future.
- Rosa Parks. She could teach us all a thing or two about the use of calm indignation to combat an obvious injustice, as well as the importance of self-respect, sense of worth, and living by example and not just through rhetoric.
- Jon Stewart. His sharp, smart wit would keep me abreast of the social issues of the day in an entertaining way. Not to mention the fact that I would likely be laughing until I cried much of the time.
- Dara Torres. Her three silver medals in the 2008 Olympics – at the age of 41 – serves as a constant reminder that physical success can triumph over age with hard work, determination, and long lonely hours devoted to one’s craft.
- Audrey Hepburn would serve as a timeless example of how to maintain classic, elegant beauty while working your heart out.
- Julia Child. Embarking on a culinary career at the ripe young age of 37, Julia Child proves that it is never too late to throw caution to the wind and learn a new skill, launch a new career, or embrace a new endeavor.
- My dad would provide endless examples of what can be accomplished with gumption, foresight and, for lack of a better word, “ballsy-ness.” Many, many years ago, my dad took a colossal risk and left the security of a stable job with a well-known food company to start his own food manufacturing company. He has since turned that budding little business into an international success through his blood, sweat, tears, and brave entrepreneurship.
- My mom. Without my mom, my dad’s risky venture down the “road less traveled” would not only have been lonelier, it most likely would not have been as successful. Her unconditional support tempered by practicality, countless sacrifices, and unwavering faith in my dad allowed him to realize his lifelong dream.
As they say, behind every great man is a great woman.
This post is part of Stasha’s Monday Listicles, which had a theme of “On the Road” this week.