On May 10th, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah, the last spike of the First Transcontinental Railroad – connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads – was driven by Leland Stanford. The railroad took 6 years to build, was 1,776 miles long, and hundreds of lives were lost.
The Golden Spike was the ceremonial last spike signifying the completion of the railroad. With one swing of a mallet, years, of blood, sweat, and tears came to an abrupt end.
If only our journeys were as linear and the end as definite, life may be a little easier. Alas, our lives are far from linear, and anything but definite.
We are on one of two paths, one that is comfortable and within our comfort zone, or one that is riddled with doubt and only crosses our comfort zone long enough for us to breathe on occasion. Neither path is more noble or dignified. Our path is simply our path.
But don’t fool yourself into thinking that neither path has a price to pay. Both paths come with considerable sacrifice.
Taking the path less traveled, the path clearly out of our comfort zone, tests us day-in-day-out. The fear, the struggle, the suffering, gives us clear and immediate feedback. The cause and effect are immediate. We question if we have the strength to continue. Much like a prizefight, we fight each battle, one round at a time.
Living a ‘comfortable’ life comes with a far greater sacrifice. While being comfortable allows the days to pass without significant turmoil, our thresholds aren’t challenged. We avoid struggle at the cost of growth. We’re lulled into believing that we’re not giving anything up. The visible effects of our choice are far past the horizon, providing the illusion of security.
The greatest sacrifice is not the growth-induced pain associated with taking the road less traveled. The greatest sacrifice is not expressing the unique gift that you have been given. The cost of that sacrifice cannot be put into words. While the safe journey may be less turbulent, there is no chance that you will reach your true destination unless you push your limits.
Everyone has a choice to make. There is no judgment. But make the choice with eyes wide open. Our lives can uncover the essence of our potential. Our lives can expose our greatest gifts. If we so choose.
While our lives may not be as predictable as the Transcontinental Railroad, we all have the right to feel the satisfaction of reaching our final destination and driving our Golden Spike.
‘If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life… A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at ultimate peace with himself.’ – Abraham Maslow