Fortune cookies are true…so I now believe. Two days before my Friday December 2008 wedding, my wife ate at a Chinese restaurant, where she received a fortune cookie that read: “A lifetime of happiness lies ahead of you.” The next day, on Thursday, she went out for Chinese again and her fortune cookie read: “The coming Friday will be an exciting time for you.” Was this a coincidence or was a specific message brought by the Universe to my lovely bride-to-be?
The fortune cookie story doesn’t end here. Last night I shared my career ambitions, goals, and dreams for my life with my wife. I explained why I believe I have been blessed with a wife and son who I adore, a wonderful family, great friends, and a successful career. I explained to Korrel that I have achieved such riches because of my growing capacity to love, commitment to personal growth, dedication to my career, belief in my dreams, and most importantly, my ability to make the right choices at the right time. An hour after that discussion, at a Chinese restaurant, my fortune cookie read, “Life is a series of choices, today yours are good ones.” I knew then, I had to write something.
I believe a successful life comes from the right choices at the right time, as well as the willingness to pursue the goals inherent in these choices. Robert Frost nailed the “choices” challenge in his poem The Road Less Traveled. In this poem, he saw the value of ending up at a “crossroads” in life.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could”
At this crossroad, we face two distinctly different paths, which have two equally distinct different outcomes. Perhaps, at this crossroad, we are brought to the biggest choice of our life: in which direction do we proceed? Do we take the path that is more familiar to us, the one that we can navigate in the dark-with our eyes closed; or do we take the path that is unknown, frightening, and strewn with obstacles and unpredictable outcomes.
The familiar path offers predictability and safety, but only a limited version of “success.” However, the “road less traveled” is risky in nature, but has the possibility of ultimately changing your life. When you travel down the road less traveled, there is no turning back; life is forever changed and you can never return to the old life of safety and predictability. This risky path is where choices manifest into dreams, and dreams manifest into reality.
“Two roads diverged in a wood,
and I took the one less traveled by.
And that has made all the difference.”
Paul Coelho, the author of “The Alchemist,” believes that we all have the ability to achieve our “personal legend,” which is the best possible version of ourselves: the person of our dreams. Mr. Coelho believes by pursuing your personal legend you have then chosen “the path God has chosen for you here on Earth.” It is a path toward the life you believe in, goals that you have chosen, and dreams that you know belong to you. Through difficult choices, a commitment to moral and ethical principals, the courage to see mistakes or bad outcomes as gifts, and the humility to not lose yourself in moments of success, one can achieve their “personal legend.”
Similar to taking the “road less traveled,” achieving one’s personal legend may come at a cost. Life consists of a series of “mini crossroads,” where good choices, despite one’s best intentions, can result in failure and disappointment. For those of us who are pursuing our personal legend, we know that life’s loftiest and most heartfelt goals can sometimes end in failure and disappointment; but still we persevere. By dedicating ourselves to the pursuit of our very best version of ourselves, we are able to transform our moments of disappointment, disillusionment, or embarrassment, into achieved goals and dreams.
The words of Robert Frost and Paul Coelho have inspired me to understand that because life is truly a series of choices, we can achieve our dreams. We all come into this imperfect world, in imperfect families, and as imperfect versions of ourselves. All of us have our stories of dysfunctional families, economic hardships, medical limitations, self esteem challenges, etc. God intended us to all be able, through conscious choices, to grow and develop into something special. Without committing to a path less traveled or path toward our personal legend, we live our life, at best, in mediocrity: never quite knowing how far we could have progressed, who we could have become, and what effect on the world we could have made.
It is through a series of choices and the perseverance to pursue the goals inherent in these choices that we achieve our God given potential. Choices bring us to dreams.