The Fork & The Road

Published: March 1st 2007EDIT THIS ENTRY


Venice, Italy
"If there's a fork in the road, take it." Nine years old and probably, if not certainly, this was one of the strangest, most peculiar phrases I heard. A fork in the road? And what about a spoon? Dirty napkins? Why not, as the man said…pick it up!

The quote was read to me out of a book written by Pat Riley (one of the top ten NBA coaches of all-time according to entitled The Winner Within. He was older. I was nine. And at nine years old, I hadn't the slightest, simplest clue as for the significance behind the man's word. Again…nine: why should I?

The fork and the road, as well as the action of taking it all in, carries little to no weight. It is of no importance to a youthful mind, for in this state of innocence, the mind is still free; it's still absorbing every experience with its refining preferences. Most of all, it is these very preferences in which life is lived by, in which the road is traveled.

However, somewhere between youth (say 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+ years old and on into adolescence) the numerous forks upon the
Late MorningLate MorningLate Morning

The Sierra Nevadas, CA, USA
road vanish. More, they might be there, but they're passed over in place of someone else's forks. To retake one's own fork upon one's own road is the exercise in life.

Along Came The Choice

As the motion of the sun, as the pleating horizon and its contrasting hues from light to darkness and back, life revolves. Individually, life revolves and evolves, traveling the path of the individual. The individual, from each perspective, is the traveler, and upon all travels, there is a road which to go by. Which fork will you choose? Or from the very beginning, my dear child, don't forget your forks.

I've chosen the revolving life as a professional traveler. I decided, back during those turbulent years of unsteadiness amidst a pubescent burgeoning, that the road will always be mine, and thus found the lifestyle to support this decision. And so today, as I prepare to make do on the winding road once again, this phrase read long ago hits me like a recuperated weakling off the bench a little too soon. I now see it in its full light.

Experience is based on our choices, and we can bring
Coloring WaterColoring WaterColoring Water

Rome, Italy
as much or as little personal choice into the matter as we wish (stay off the bench or move your ass?). We can allow ourselves to be the slumped, long-faced mule of the team with heavy weeping eyes stuck outside the huddle, or we can make the choice to stick through and be an additional binding link of this revolving and evolving. In other words, we can choose to begin and allow ourselves to pick up our own forks and lead our own life based, not on the habituated confusion of old wise-tales by generations past as if a watched pot truly never boils (it does, trust me), but instead return to that aged-time of youth when if we felt like watching the flames and their luminescent glow, then we would for the sole reason that it felt good and there was nothing more important to do in one's lifetime then feel good.

Thank you, I Believe This Is Mine

If there's a fork in the road, take it. I arrive back at my fork, both a basic accoutrement to survival in life, as well as a split where the road veers off down the subsequent decisions at each fork.

Months pass. Paris—its ancient European splendor of the aesthetics in all of daily life's routines, often only found on one's lap in the turning pages of the finest of books. Paris and the parisien. Paris and my project to return to the forgotten classrooms of formal education to learn how to use my nose to speak and force air through its passages at deeper and deeper depths like a Bikram sweat-room. Paris—alas! With a true parisienne at that—a woman six generations of the city who would become my parisienne mère.

Five months I signed my signature and gave my word to family, friends, Paris and its language, and my new mother. But five months for the traveler is eternity. I couldn't help myself but sink beyond my nasal utterances into the wordless images of the road, that long curving path of travel, of familiarity within the unknown, which I've accustomed my psyche to—indeed distant from that lung, throat, nose and tongue pulse of pronunciations like mignon, exposition, disparaitre…(spare us Cam).

Yes; the pressed lips, the fours hours of French class five days a week, and that licentious road spitting a swirl of dust round my hips where I breathe that cleanse of freedom. Where was I?

As I said, I'm dedicated—dedicated to the softness of the pavement beneath the fork, as to the crisp steel shaping the idiom’s many forms. I'm dedicated to the life of the traveler. Paris' time was up, and I clearly saw my fork.


From the start and before the birth of my Parisian immersion, I collected my forks. They were forks of many (many I emphasize), shining with an enrichment of adventure, shaped in spontaneity. Every minute, every moment of my reality, I approached the forks of my dreams and picked them up liberally, making the choices for the experiences I desired in life. My present moment, my future, and my past rolled into one—they were in my hands and they slid upon my tongue.

Thus Paris arrived: the student, the French classes, the homestay with a lone parisienne mère, and the intense independence of the Traveler buried throughout my consciousness. The forks amany, the direction one way or the other. Stay in Paris—the marooned traveler locked in a conceived commitment like a child to a heavy, hot-milked nipple. Or—my mind, body

Paris, France
and Soul fancied—or return home for a restbit before the lingering dusty lane of the lone wanderer catches his scent afar once again.

The choices.

That fork.

When a choice is made there is a believed manufacturing of commitment. "I will do this." You tell yourself. You tell others. There's a response from all: Yes you will, or possibly the contrary. And the word spreads round as you convince yourself of its necessity, its permanence within you. A bond is created.

In a way, we're married to our choices. Most of us take the exchange of rings and that single, fleeting kiss a little too far when indubitably (‘til death do us part) the marriage is tied and knotted to a mere thought. Equally fleeting. Equally fleeting. A thought, into speech, turned action.

However, a choice remains as its origin as that plain thought, and then its gone. But here lies the trouble: you can't let go. You're stuck on it because you took it so seriously, so whole-mindedly that there was nothing else ever to get in the way.

Yes, oh Lord, it would last forever! You can't let go as

The Sierra Nevadas, CA, USA
more thoughts arrive, in streams, coming in torrents, possibly in the age's mightiest of tempests. It's raining forks (this is when you cry Hallelujah!).

And Now Stabbed…With Peace

A thought is a thought, as a fork is a fork, and a donkey's fart is a donkey's fart—an expulsion of some form or another. Leave it at that and move on in your flow. And although I made a thought about Paris from the beginning, shared it, and created it as my reality, five months was whose commitment? Mine? The stone of life and its magical impossibility of revolving and evolving? (Even stones get the blues when they erode).

Apparently my five months is two months too long. And so, as the forks shower just passed month three out of the decided five, my French-swollen head, like a Paris in a Saturday's Eric Kayser boulangerie, freezes. I stop, take in a breath, and feel the current circumstances I am fighting against. I stop again, yes, and I let go. A perceived commitment, which never existed, vanishes for good as my current becomes unblocked. I let go and I flow, far from Paris.

No, I’m not married to
Shoreline SaturationShoreline SaturationShoreline Saturation

Seattle, WA, USA
any one single thought. I never was, and I never made a commitment. There never was one in any of the forks I came upon because indubitably, as my road revolves and evolves, more forks arrive and new choices in life are made regarding the current circumstances.

No, I’m free and my forks are in my hands as these forks spread out in a panoply upon the traveling road. I don't stop and allow someone or something else to begin collecting my forks for me. They’re mine—it’s my life.

In other words, it all comes down to this: Bundled in a ball, simple enough for a nine year old to play with, Pat Riley also said, “Don't let other people tell you what you want." Whether it’s a fork, a spoon, or those sumptuous lessons folded within a dirty napkin, Mother Earth is revolving and evolving—and your life is among it all. Deliberately take it upon you and live your life: If there's a fork in the road, it's yours. Take it!

This article was originally written for and posted on Brave New Traveler

Additional photos below
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1st March 2007

Just a stranger passing by..
Hi there.. Hmmm..I've just joined the travel blog and found out your journal..And I love it! Loved the way you talked about travelling...and this sentence below... :)) ''I'm dedicated to the life of the traveler.'' I also like thinking about myself as a person whose life is also dedicated to travelling.. we'll see.. :) Anyway, greetings from Croatia!! p.s. the picture of the Fontana di trevi is fabulous.. (hope I've spelled it correctly) I've been there, seen it.. loved it. Alohaaa!

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