So this morning, I got out of my flat still bleary-eyed as I only managed to go to sleep past 2 am and woke up at 5:30 am. I tried to go back to sleep but the sunshine beckoned so I decided to put on my running shoes instead of hitting the sack again. As I am still tired and not feeling particularly energetic this morning, I have decided to go on my Route B.
Just like most things in my life, my route for running, jogging or walking is very predictable. I have it down to a routine. I take Route A when I am particular energetic and Route B when my body is only partially willing for the run. It was pretty quiet this morning, I guess, most sensible people are still in their beds. I was reaching the point where I normally turn back when an idea hit me…Why don’t I explore that path that a jogger just come out of? It looks like it lead to a park, field, or wooded area. As I said, I have a routine even in my walks so this sudden idea, albeit small, is out of character. (must be due to my sleep-addled brain). I actually crossed the road and started walking down the path. A few meters in and my gut keeps screaming, ‘No!’ so I did a 180 turn and walked back. The poor cyclist, who was at least 7 meters away from me, must have been startled by my sudden direction change.
On my way back down my route, I keep thinking about my decision to turn around. I reflected that it was like Deja vu of some instances in my life when I am faced with a fork in my path- literally and figuratively. Being raised by Filipino parents mean that caution and safety have been drilled into us. Most of them are common sense advice that a child needs to learn like crossing the street, choosing the place to eat in, choosing the type of people you hang out with, etc. whilst some are prohibitive like having a 9 pm curfew even when I was already working and 21 years old, never allowed to ride a bike as I may fall off and hurt myself. My parents were probably stricter with me as I am the youngest daughter of four. Now I wonder how much I have missed whilst growing up due to my cautious nature.
During one party in our house, one of my aunts commented that I am one of those who does not know how it was to fail. I think we were talking of the fact that our cheering squad won again in the school’s competition. At that time, I probably accepted this graciously but now I wonder…did I succeed each time because I refuse to take risks? Was I successful in my studies and career because I always stayed on the tried and tested path? Had I risked more, would the results be better than I already have?
Routine… I love routines. I wake up at certain time of the day and I have a set bedtime as well. I placed everything in a certain place or pocket in my bag so I do not need to rummage through my bag to look for something. I shop in the same shops, buy from the same market vendors, walk in the same streets, and hang out with the same people… I have lived in London for 15 years now yet I have not explored the city as much as one would expect. I know of the ‘touristy’ spots as I take visiting friends and relatives around but I will probably still get lost if we veered off the known path. Heavens help me if I am in the city and there is a tube and train strike! I would be lost!
Perhaps, I should ask ‘Why not?’ more often. It is impossible to know all the variables in any situation to predict the best outcome. Playing it safe will only give me the usual results but what if I go on the less travelled path? Perhaps, I may be pleasantly surprised with the results? I have taken some risks before ergo my very presence here in UK but those are always done with friends. However, there are some decisions and paths that I will have to venture on my own. As they said, ‘ If you want something you never had then you need to do something you’ve never done.’
So next time when faced with another decision between a safe decision that keeps the status quo and one that is unknown, I will ask myself the question…’Why not?’