What If the Road Less Traveled Is Also the Path of Least Resistance?
When not everything shows up as expected per your itinerary
Many images come to mind when the word journey is mentioned. Roads, bridges, water…just to list a few. Those are our external traverses.
But the internal odysseys—the journeys of the heart and the soul—tend to conjure less distinct imagery, or may appear as familiar forms cloaked in foggy mist that we need to travel through to get to the light (as in clarity or answers).
Sometimes we’re able to choose which path to take; sometimes the way is thrust upon us. Such was my situation in August 2020 when my husband, Joe, received his diagnosis of aggressive, late-stage liver cancer. And before either of us could even reset the GPS for a new route, he was gone and I was suddenly traveling alone at the height of Covid lockdown.
It was a very murky time, indeed, and I needed to pull off to the side of the road for a while. We used to joke that Joe was the driver and I was the navigator, but that truly did describe our roles in the relationship. I charted the path; he got us there. He was a “get the job done” kind of guy.
So it was scary for me to take the driver’s seat, especially on a road shrouded in haze and hazards. But staying stuck is even more scary for me, so I inched out a little at a time and did something I have a very hard time doing: I called for help.
The kind of road-side assistance I required could not be handled by AAA, however. At first my requests for assistance came in little flashes of insight, seemingly from Joe. They appeared in ways I’ve described in previous posts, an old photo, text, or email from him popping up—old messages that I would have had to scroll for several minutes to find that somehow showed up on my phone when I awoke or suddenly in the middle of the day.
In order to learn to communicate more directly and clearly with him, I attended a psychic fair. I knew one of the participants, an astrologer, and had my chart read. Then I did a session with a medium present at the fair.
Both these individuals said the same thing to me even before I mentioned my purpose for being there. “He (Joe) had to leave so you could do something very important that you must do alone.”
What?? No, we did everything together. We were a team. I shook my head.
Both the astrologer and the medium were firm. This was something you both agreed to before coming into this life, I was told.
Now my inner child took the stage. She crossed her arms, stomped her foot, and called, “Do over!”
I spent several months, similar to Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking, expecting Joe to return. Didion saved several pairs of her husband’s shoes so he’d have something to wear when he came back. I simply confidently meditated each day, expecting that upon waking one morning soon, he’d be in his rightful place next to me in bed. I was totally amenable to traveling to an alternate universe or whatever it took to make this happen.
(I did mention a few paragraphs ago that Joe was the guy who got the job done, right? If anyone could come back, it was him. He once had an assistant who called him “McGyver” because he could always find or create the way when there was no way.)
Then I got an email that very gently informed me that he was not coming back, and I needed to do this on my own. The sender’s address was not from the other side, technically. However, the email was several months old and contained a poem sent from a friend who had received it when she lost her husband. That it suddenly showed up on my phone’s screen again made it abundantly clear that it arrived by divine transmission.
In no uncertain terms the poem explained how although not present in form, departed loved ones are still present in spirit and available to those left behind in the physical realm. The more we ache, the closer they are.
I sat next to Joe’s altar, rereading the poem and crying for several hours. Then even my inner child had to sit back and accept that I was both the navigator and the driver now. And I had a mission:
What was so important that Joe would give up his life so I could get it done?
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My journey on that mission is taking me down roads less traveled. One takeaway is that “answers” are more available when you travel alone and on a path less trod by others. Rather than being distracted and rerouted by other drivers with predetermined routes on the superhighway, you can amble along with the curiosity of a child. Unburdened by the adult world’s blueprint for reality, you can discover the truth of self to be found beneath a lifetime’s layers of social conditioning.
Part of my mission is sharing what I discover. I suspect my quest/purpose is not too different from what each of us is here to do on both personal and collective levels. So expect to see more posts about taking the uncharted course for the freedom it delivers and the truth it reveals.
In addition, my new road has brought unexpected opportunities. One appeared earlier this year in the form of a new client on as a similar journey as my own. We’ve undertaken a huge project together. Like the road I’m traveling, this project is helping me to break through boundaries and mindsets about what’s possible.
Now, several months into it, my research is almost complete and the writing part is about to begin. It will require my very focused attention and extensive time to complete. So until at least the end of this year, the twice-weekly Shelley Writes publishing schedule will be affected. It’s my intention to send either a Tarot Tuesday or TGIF email at least once a week.
I’ve been sharing stories and photos from our road trips in previous posts. If you’re a new reader or missed some of these, you can find the photo essays and more in Archive. The posts go back to May 2021.