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Stop, Look, Listen, Choose

Often, when out walking, I come to a crossroads. A point where I must go one way or the other. Just like all the crossroads in my life, I have to decide the next step.

Two paths, tracks in the snow.

Walking alone the other day, temperature 10 degrees, the wind chill below zero, I reached a juncture and stopped. Stopped the sound of my boots squeaking on the snow. Stopped and just looked.

Broken tree, blue sky, woods.

Looked up at the gray branches against the bright blue sky; at the light hitting a broken tree. I listened, and heard the distant tapping of a woodpecker, the creak of a limb in the wind.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

With all decisions, whether the smaller ones, like which trail to take, or the larger ones I back up with lots of research: which jobs to apply for, which to take when offered; which house to buy,

I apply the same rule.

Stop thinking, I tell myself. Stop thinking, quit rationalizing.

It's time to listen. To listen to my gut. To the tapping inside that says yes, the creak that says no. To sense the direction rather than think it.

Great Blue Heron flying on winter day.

Then choose, and proceed.


I have made mistakes.

Duck hunter trying to motor through ice.

Like this duck-hunter determined to push his hull through the ice.

He geed and hawed that outboard motor, sure he could make it.

(Yep, been there, except I did it with a kayak and paddle).

Duck hunter on iced over Harness Creek.

In the end, he turned back. The ice too thick, the open water too distant. (Oh yeah, P.S., my kayak and I had to turn back also.)

I've learned that plans can go awry due to poor planning or

to circumstances beyond my control. Or maybe,

to not paying close enough attention.

Then it's time to listen again.

Cedar waxwing flying.

Direction sensing can be instantaneous,

like when I chose a particular trail and was rewarded with

these cedar waxwings.

Or it can take years,

as it did when I had to figure out my next path after MS symptoms

forced me to quit teaching high school science.

Cedar waxwing landed.

In each case, I stopped. Looked at my options. Listened to my gut.

Then chose what my gut knew.

And that has made all the difference.

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