When You Come To A Fork In The Road

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

With acknowledgement and appreciation to Yogi Berra for use of the title of one of his books, which was also one of his most famous quotes, and applying it to my own life, I see myself coming to a personal fork in my road, and I’m seriously thinking about following Yogi’s advice and taking that fork.

Some people may not have read this book about Yogi and his sayings, some of those, which, when heard for the first time, may seem like scripted lines from an Abbott and Costello comedy routine, but as you read the book, the expressions are connected to life stories of Berra’s explained in a clear, meaningful and sometimes emotional way. If you’re at all familiar with Yogi Berra’s career and witty quotations, and even if you aren’t, take the time to read this book. It gives meaning to some of the things he said. It’s a great read and one that might make you think. I know it made me think.

In my time on this earth, I’ve been fortunate to have gone down many roads on my life’s journey, most of them leading to somewhere planned out, some of them detoured by this or that, but most having specific career and life destinations in mind.

I’ve had the opportunity to have a wonderfully rewarding (with an occasional frustration) and gratifying career of over forty years in education, a career for which I planned, for which I prepared, and a career at which I feel I worked very hard to be the best that I could be. I worked with many wonderful students, who kept me sharp to try and answer their questions, and lead them as best I could. I worked with many great colleagues and administrators, who, with my students, allowed me to fail at times and make mistakes, reminding me what I learned from my parents, my teachers, my college professors, my colleagues, my mentors, and my students, all throughout my life, that education (learning), and life, is most often trial and error, and if we learn from our mistakes and work hard and correct them, then that part of our education, and life, is/was a success.

I’ve had the opportunity to have coached baseball, softball, and football throughout my years, as well. I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with other coaches whom I respect and I thank for sharing dugouts and sidelines with me, and teaching me so many things during my experiences. I’ve also met, and been honored to have been part of the lives of, many wonderful young people who challenged me to be the best that I could be in the dugout and on the field. I learned much from my opportunities in coaching, from my mentors, my colleagues, my players, from books, videos, the many clinics I attended, and from the experiences (again, many of them trial and error, and building on successes and tweaking things that didn’t work and trying again) in those sports themselves, and afterwith the self-evaluation of each practice, game, and season. Again, a road for which I prepared to travel.

I’ve had the opportunity to officiate a sport that I love, with many other great officials and friends, that opportunity being one that I wanted to do, one I prepared myself to do, one I worked hard to do well, and one that had direction for me. This, too, was an opportunity which reminded me I was human, making me realize that I wouldn’t always be right, where I’d sometimes make mistakes giving me desire and dedication to work harder to be the best that I could be, and learn from any mistakes as I went along. Another road I prepared to travel.

I’ve had the honor and privilege of being a husband and parent, both situations having taught me many valuable things, and situations that have given me, as all the aforementioned opportunities have given me, chances to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, giving me opportunities to try to be the best that I could be in home and with family. One more road planned for, and prepared to travel.

All of these roads I’ve taken have had specific destinations in mind. They really had no forks in them. These were all situations planned out and prepared for, ones I knew pretty much where I was going, and had a general idea as to how to get there. There were some unknowns (potholes?) encountered in each of them, but they all had certain expectations created mentally before undertaking any and all of them. So where does Yogi’s advice apply in any of them? I really doesn’t. Where Yogi’s advice comes into play is finding roads which do have forks, with unplanned, untraveled, unknown, and untried trails attached to them. Those are the roads I’d now like to travel.

No, I’m not going to give up being a husband and father (or friend or advisor to anyone who may still want me as a friend and/or advisor). I could never, would never, but I have semi-retired from coaching (don’t think I’ll ever call myself completely retired from coaching), I have recently retired from officiating, I have retired from teaching, and I’m semi-retired from substitute teaching, and now I’m looking to travel down some of the unknown forks in some new roads that may be adventurous, scary, definitely uncharted by me, and hopefully exciting for both Sally and me.

Where will those unknown forks lead us? Maybe we’ll see sights we’ve longed to see in this country and/or others. Maybe I’ll write another book, maybe a real long book, a book hopefully read and enjoyed by many. Maybe it’ll lead us [along with Chris and Jeff, (and their boys if they’re still around)] to more frequent jaunts to Tennessee to see Chasity and her boys, and Virginia to see Jon, and check out more of this great country in their neck of the woods.

Maybe we’ll encounter new and different art, music or theater. Maybe I’ll decide to try new and different cuisine (all within dietary guidelines I’ve tried to follow after my heart procedure, of course.) Maybe we’ll take that cross country train trip, stopping to see this and that along the way, or maybe find ourselves on a beach somewhere, with the sounds of ocean, birds, and wind playing a background concert to the landscape Mother Nature has painted for us, letting us live in just that moment, when all that matters right then is each other, feeling the sand in our toes, the warm breeze and sunshine on our faces, and the love for each other in our hearts.

And maybe that unknown fork in the road will just lead us back home, on the back deck, with a Sunday morning cup of coffee, the newspaper, or just each other, listening to the songs of the birds, the rhythm of a gentle rain pitter-pattering on the canopy shielding us, or watching a beautiful sunrise, then returning each night to see an amazing, colorful sunset, maybe enjoying another cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, under the warmth of our gas heater, just the two of us realizing how far we’ve come together, and how much farther we still want to go.

So, I’m looking forward to coming to these forks in the road, and even more excited to take those forks, and journey to wherever it leads us, allowing me to realize that I’ve traveled to many wonderful places (opportunities) already these sixty-three years past, and I’m looking forward to adding many more miles to our lives’ odometers in the years to come.

Thanks for the great advice, Yogi.