I’ve often quoted Robert Frost’s famous poem about, “The road less traveled…and that made all the difference.”  I hear admonitions against staying inside the box, and encouragement for painting outside the lines. Sinatra sang, “I did it my way.”  There is no shortage of encouragement to go against the grain. 


A friend recently sent me a Biranna West quote that reads:

“Almost anything that truly calls your soul will take you off the certain and consistent path that a million others have carved out of the unknown.  It’s never going to be reasonable to travel, to pursue art, to love the person you love.  There will always be a reason not to, another thing you could or should or might be doing with your time.  Sometimes, in an effort to make sense of our lives, we end up more lost than ever because love isn’t logical, joy isn’t logical, passion isn’t logical.  You have to find the courage to paint outside the lines you once drew for yourself. ” 


When I read this quote, the encouragement to be unconventional hit me a little differently than it has in the past.  It dawned on me that these aphorisms of non-compliance have as their subtext that the unconventional path is preferable because the rewards are greater.  “…and that made all the difference,” said Frost.  We jump to the conclusion that, “all the difference” is measured by more goodness, more money, more recognition, or more accomplishment.  


But was Frost really saying that?  Jobs and Gates dropped out of college, and they became gazillionaires.  So their example suggests that the rewards are monetary or otherwise recognisable by our larger, materialistic society.


There’s a sampling bias.  We don’t hear about the ones that swam against the current and drowned.  The fact is, there is no guarantee of a given outcome.  We are not guaranteed to earn greater rewards if we tow the line and walk the conventional path checking the conventional boxes.  Neither are we guaranteed to win greater rewards by swimming against the current.  


The fact of the matter remains that we can’t anchor on the outcome at all.  What we must anchor on instead is that every day we are rewarded when we respond to the music in our hearts, and comply with its bidding.


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