I haven't been able to pick Everly up from daycare the past few weeks. Instead I've been staying an extra hour after work to study for a certification I need to get. But on those days I don't get to see her big semi-toothless grin as she recognizes me when I walk in the door to pick her up, I stare out the window of my office and remember a specific day about a month ago. I had parked the car a little further down from where I normally park to pick her up. It was such a beautiful day. Still hot, but a mild breeze jostled the leaves on the trees ever so slightly. I usually followed the sidewalk to the driveway to the front steps and through the door. But that day I walked through the grass. It's not that it was such a crazy thing to walk through the grass. It was that I stood there for half a second looking at the different paths before me. Consciously choosing to take the softer, slightly muddy route. It was small. Infinitesimal, really. No one looking on would think anything of it. But it has stuck with me all this time, and I've reflected on it often.
It made me feel like, even though my days are so structured with responsibilities and routine, I still have choices. I think it's hard as we get older. The choices inevitably start to dwindle as our paths take shape. And then we add on kids and mortgages and bills and suddenly those choices that we may have chosen years ago are locked in. I'm not saying I regret any of these choices. Far from it. These choices have allowed me to be part of this wonderful life. But it is a surreal feeling when you stop one day and realize how every choice has become inextricably tied together and one adjustment may have residual effects.
And I realized that day that this statement couldn't be any truer.
Because I did make a choice that was outside my routine. And it did have a residual effect on me. I chose a different route to the same end. Impossibly small and insignificant to everyone else. But for me? It was so significant. Instead of the hard concrete beneath my sandals, I felt the earth give way to each of my steps. And for those 20 steps, I felt lighter. I felt rebellious. I felt different.
And then I saw a sweet, chubby-cheeked face in the window light up when she saw me, and I forgot all about this quiet metamorphosis.
You see, it didn't really matter how I got to her. Even if I had to cross a fiery chasm, I would have gotten to her. But I got to choose how to get to her, and that choice that day has stuck with me. It has reminded me to look for those small options that are present at every turn throughout my routine. The normal way that is perfectly fine, but the other way that may be just a liiitle bit more fun or special.
"And that has made all the difference."
- Robert Frost