Robert Frost spoke of two roads diverging in a wood, and choosing the one less traveled by. There are so so many more than two paths…and moments of choice are constant.
I’ve realized that facebook is a way to peek at alternate life paths, paths I might just as easily be walking. And in nearly every instance, there is deep relief and freedom in watching paths unfold that were almost mine, but aren’t.
There are more ‘well-traveled’ paths that I absolutely wanted to take at various points in my life. Perhaps, if anyone would have walked with me, I’d be living a different set of miracles now. I wasn’t brave enough to walk those louder, populous paths alone.
The road less traveled by has consistently provided shelter and spiritual respite for a bruised young sensitive ego, in addition to being fertile with divergent wonders. I’ve come to prefer the quiet, learned to be very satisfied in my own heart, seeking the rare company of fellow adventurers who like to gasp and create in ways that align with my own patterns of observation and reflection.
And because of the modern moment of personalized technological life sharing, I get to see in real time the way those unwalked paths unfold. And feel the freedom of not being on those paths, feel the gratitude for the life I’ve chosen, through my cowardice, bravery and particular responses to fate.
I’ve heard it called JOMO, the joy of missing out. Some of my JOMO (almost/ungranted wish) paths:
The jobs I almost took/kept
The coworkers I almost had
The unbearable power and responsibility I almost shouldered
The fellowships/grants I wanted
The crushes I almost confessed my ‘love’ to
The relationships I almost fell into
The friendships I thought would thrill me
The boys and girls I thought were so brilliant and broodingly attractive
The people I thought I should have children with (!!)
The cities I almost moved to
The ambition I almost centered
The sacrifices I nearly normalized
The places I wanted to stay when I’d outgrown them
More than any other social media (though I sometimes have these moments on Instagram and Twitter too), Facebook has just been helping me notice how I have been so fortunate in my deferred dreams and near misses.
And the deep joy/JOMO I experience at seeing someone else walk a path that I nearly journeyed, when it was so clearly for that person and not for me? That joy is total!
And I’m sure there are other people out there reveling in not being in my shoes. It’s just so wonderful.
So, let’s honor the random awesomeness of this moment in technology and communication as a sci fi win. Facebook’s exposure to other people’s lives is making my own life increasingly less regrettable, and making me more curious when things I think I want don’t happen…or don’t sustain. I rejoice in apparent failures. Sometimes. At the very least, I’m starting to frame things that seem like thwarted loves and rejected dreams and mercury-retrograded plans as opportunities for future JOMO.