Time moves faster and faster as one accumulates years. If I close my eyes tightly shut and reach my hands out, I can grasp the time one year ago, can step back through that barrier and place myself in the same position. I can feel the Smirnoff burning holes in my throat as I throw back shot after shot, head spinning in delirium. I can feel the grass and skin beating against mine as I roll around in the loss of inhibitions, lack of shame. I can feel lips against mine, not caring whose they are and why, just that they are there to pull me back to this world. I can feel the hand grasping mine in a fumbled attempt at affection, fear radiating from the fingertips. I can feel eyes on my back, confusion in every look, every glance. I can feel the red sheets against my flesh, not flattering or comfortable, but finally mine and only mine. I can feel the frame of the person on the car, making me forget, setting me free of my hurt, my suspicion. I can feel thigh muscles tensing at the touch of my fingers, mind immediately back to that single moment, that single mistake. I can feel my eyes stinging as my mind finally cracks; it’s over.
If lives were painted out in front of our eyes, stitched out from beginning to end, they would in no way be linear; they would be a series of branches, starting at one point and moving outwards in an infinity amount of forks. For every single action in which we take part, every single breath, every single movement, there is a choice. You have to make a decision. Yes or no. Left or right. Now or later.
We hear talk of these intangible and illusive “paths” in which we are supposed to be following our entire lives. “Follow the right path for you.” “Don’t wander onto the wrong path.” Well, what the hell are these paths? How do we know which one is the right path? How do we know how to stay on the right path?
The “path” your life is traveling is simply tracing which branch you decide to follow at every fork, at every decision. Start from the beginning, your first breath, and move through every decision, big and small, important and trivial, and there will be your path. You cannot follow a path, because you make your own path. It is created as you live out your life. It moves as you move; it elongates as you continue to breathe, continue to make decisions. It is simply a shadow of your actions, a graph charting in which direction your life is moving.
With that being said, every decision, no matter if it is big or small, is life altering, is path altering. Every choice skewers that path, sends you off into another direction, whether in a positive or negative side. Your every decision determines the outcome of your life, your path. This path can never be erased, never changed. Life keeps branching outward, moving forward at alternating speeds, sometimes fast and sometimes slow, but nonetheless always forward. Once a decision is made, it is forever engraved in your path. You can move your path in that same direction, can bounce it back in the desired side, but it will never ever reverse itself, never ever will go back to that same branch.
Sometimes I find myself running down this path, racing through the trees until I can only feel the wisps of leaves on my back, visions blurring past my eyes. Someone is chasing me. I fly terrified down any which branch I can discover first, whichever looks easiest at the time. I trip across streams, tumble down slopes, swim down rivers, all to escape this elusive transgressor. I collapse on the ground finally in pure exhaustion, fingers scraping against the ground in a final attempt to move. I turn around to face the monster, and all I see is my shadow, a reflection of my own self. The only person who can make me choose a certain path is me, the fear of me.
We drive our own selves over cliffs, scared to slow down and deliberately choose our own steps. We are scared we will follow dead end paths, dangerous paths, wrong paths. But there are no wrong paths as long as you follow your heart, trust yourself to make the right step for you. No one else can make your decisions for you. Just slow down, think, and make the right decision, not the right decision for your peers or your friends or your family, the right decision for you.