A Slow Death Down Wrong Trails (Part 2) By: Melissa Koch

Contributed by Melissa Koch

I’ve always had trouble making choices. My choices are generally apples to apples; an equal number of pros and cons. Often these choices have to do with moving to new locations or maybe switching jobs. Perhaps there’s a relationship involved that requires a move to take it to the next level. Sometimes a location just “calls” to me like a kid in a confectionery following warm candy scents to conveyor belts proudly offering all the best sweets. The fork in the path is where the obsessive deliberation begins, anxiety builds, and I become frozen, ruminating on projected scenarios and staring down an unknown path. The truth is there is no way to know what will happen, but ultimately, I elect for change and pay the costs. Any decision has consequences regardless of how it plays out. Inducing change always leads to something significant. Even big events can be traced back to micro choices made along the way. When you understand this, you find yourself terrified. “What if I make the wrong decision and it leads to disaster? What if the relationship doesn’t work or the people at the new job are asshats? What if there’s a cougar or a serial killer and I die?” I take the leap and prepare for pre-rehearsed scenarios. Turns out, rehearsal can’t be practically applied to emotional upheaval.

The author’s side trail to Florida: Cedar Key

Some people cliff dive or para-glide, some climb rock faces, and still others parachute out of planes. All are acceptable risky behaviors, but my risk-taking is unique. Compulsively moving to new locations and jobs, I am always leaving people I love behind scattered to the wind. A poof of dandelion seeds caught in an updraft. Sometimes I rip through like a tornado bringing unstoppable change; a divine answer to those who secretly pray for their lives to be less mundane. I have been chaotic, compulsive, and unpredictable and I have paid the price finding myself, at times, alone and derelict. Each time I can’t resist the side path. I find myself deviating from the intended trail which would have led to some important destination. Sooner or later I find myself doubling back, attempting to resuscitate the life I had. A return to those places and faces I have missed dearly; the prodigal daughter returned. Inevitably the move will have changed me, and I feel like a six-foot man trying to squeeze his way into a kid-sized Marvel sleeping bag. Then the relocation fantasies or the long-distance relationship begins again, next the move, and then the return. Predictable chaos. Every time I move I tell myself, “this is the last time. I am staying put, growing roots, building community.” Not unlike an alcoholic telling themselves they can have “just one drink,” blacking out, and find themselves back in the rooms of AA.

Jobs go nowhere, burgeoning friendships never mature; a bee flitting from flower to flower. Side trails leading to nowhere and delaying arrival at somewhere, “But stability, but adventure. Come on don’t you want to try something new?” “But I’m tired,” I say. The incessant battle in my heart; the overdeliberation at that fork in the trail. Will I choose the unknown path again? Who knows. I’m like a cottonwood seed adrift on strong spring winds.

Nevertheless, I’d be lying if I said there was no value in side trails nor breath-taking vistas to be discovered by getting lost and delayed. There have been serious adventures, painfully rapid growth spurts, and a constant shedding of skin not unlike that rattler I nearly stepped on because my mind was elsewhere. Truly, it’s been a slow death down wrong trails. Was it worth it? Hell yeah, but this time it is different. This time I’ll stick to the intended trail and arrive at my destination with only a few rocks in my running shoes.

Western diamondback: Taken shortly after almost stepping on its head

3 thoughts on “A Slow Death Down Wrong Trails (Part 2) By: Melissa Koch

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