HOLLY MIRANDA SMALE

Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.







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Friday, 9 July 2010

Paths

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference



- Robert Frost


A year ago, I took a path. Without knowing, I came across a fork in the road that separated my life into two pieces: what could have been, and what was. And, without knowing I was choosing, I chose one.

I don`t know when that fork was, exactly. I don`t know whether it was long term unemployment, or The Best Job In The World, or starting this blog, or falling in love for the first time, or moving to Japan; I don`t know whether perhaps the fork was actually a series of tiny ones, trickling into one road little by little, or whether it was a short and sharp change of direction: an abrupt turning.

But I now know that I have to turn around and go back the other way.

I am not who I was a year ago. From the minute I landed in Japan - from the second the plane wheels touched the tarmac on the 16th of August 2009 - I have been somebody else, and somebody much, much less. I have been self obsessed, selfish, mean, impatient, crazy and negative; I have thought and written only of myself, and of my own desires, and of my own wishes, and of my own happiness or unhappiness. I have tried to control everything and truly cared for nothing; I have given nothing, and tried to take all I can. I have clung, I have cried, I have shouted; I have shown no dignity, no composure, and no patience. Kindness and compassion have all been for myself; I acted only to get what I wanted, when I wanted it, how I wanted it. Pain and heartbreak I have blamed on others; loneliness and misery I have not blamed on myself. For every hurt I have felt I have caused more, and for every hurt I have felt I have accused others. I have allowed my world and everything and everyone in it to shrink to one size and one shape: that of myself.

It is my fault entirely. When I got on that plane a year ago, I left myself behind in a sunny bedroom in Welwyn Garden City: left behind any of the qualities that made me worth loving. If I was ever kind or loyal, compassionate or funny, generous or sweet, I stopped being all of them a year ago. Whatever made me me, I stopped being, and my life broke simply and purely because of it. I broke my own heart by being spoilt, nasty, selfish, controlling and hateful; for being impatient and showing him only the worst of me; for never giving him the girl he fell in love with. If I was lonely, it was because I made myself unlikeable and whiney; if I didn`t experience Japan properly, it was because I shut myself away from it. I have not been the victim of bad luck at all: I have been the conductor of my own misfortune, and my unhappiness has all been down to me. I have deserved nothing else.

It is too late, now, for many things. I cannot pretend I never walked down this path; I cannot pretend that I have not become who I have become. I have lost forever too many things I will never get back again: the man I have loved most in my life, friends I still miss who grew sick of me, the chance to experience Japan from the beginning, the respect of the people who are still close to me, the admiration of a sister who thought I was better than this. I have lost so much, and I will never get them back again: can only respect and love them all the more for turning away, because it shows that they were worth loving in the first place.

But it is not too late to run back down the path and try and meet the old me somewhere back there. Somewhere on that old path, one year back, is a good person: a person who is not bitter, and jaded, and cruel, and angry. A person who does not control, and manipulate, lash out continuously and yet think of herself as a victim. A person who laughs and believes in kindness and compassion; a person who thinks first of others, and not of herself, and who is able to love because she is, too, worth loving. A person who puts a good heart above the demands and needs of her own.

The person I became a year ago has not only destroyed me: it has destroyed the man I love, the family I love, the friends I love and writing I love. But it was much less the fault of the path that was taken - which could have been so happy, and so beautiful, and exactly what I dreamed it was when I was still able to dream - and more the fault of the person who took it. Somebody who would have ruined any path she took, but happened to ruin the best one for her, and the right one for her.

Going back will be difficult, and it will be slow, and it will take everything I have to let go of the path I wanted, but if it was anything less it wouldn`t be worth it. And - if I try hard enough - perhaps the next path I take will be happier because the person who chose it is a much, much better one. Somebody who loves herself more because she thinks of herself less.

And that, I think, makes all the difference.