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A Choice of Paths


Behind me is a long, sometimes treacherous, mostly uphill and occasionally burdensome path that has brought me from my youth to where I am now. There are things I would have done differently if I had known what the result would be, but I can't go back and change them, even if I wanted to. Since I recognize that, I'm learning to live with the mistakes I've made and to accept them as learning experiences. Some of my difficulties have left me with burdens I'm carrying, but I'm working on getting rid of them. I'm like a traveler who, in the folly of youth, has just come charging up an easy slope, picking up things to carry as he came along. When I reached the crest of the hill, I found that, instead of leveling off or continuing upward at an easier pace, the other side dropped off toward certain destruction. I managed to stop before reaching the edge, and now I'm traveling along cautiously beside it. To my left, the Mists of Oblivion swirl aimlessly across the Plains of Life. A note scrawled into the sands says "Drop your burdens and run away from them into the Mists." The folly of that is easy to see, however: After doing so, one would soon find that they never really knew where they were, or where they were going. I could never accept such a life. To my right is the Chasm of Certain Destruction, a direction I will definitely not head.

Before me lie three paths: One slightly to the left continues on this level, around the great Mountain before me. The second is straight ahead and climbs the Mountain, reaching ever greater heights. The third path swings toward the right and a Bridge a cross the Chasm of Destruction, where it continues along on the other side. Of the three paths, I have already rejected one: The path to the left which continues on this level is labeled "Security," under which someone has added "(STAGNATION)." Before this path disappears around the bend and into the shrouds of the Future, it brushes the Mists of Oblivion many times. Once again, I have decided I could never accept such a life.

The wye separating the two remaining Paths is still a short distance away. Even after they separate, they continue a little longer close enough together so that a person could jump from the more elevated Path to the lower one. After they separate, however, they go in very different directions. Both Paths continue upward, but that is where the similarity ends. The Path to the right is labeled "Idealism," and the Path ahead is labeled "Comfortable Wealth."

The Path of Idealism leads across a narrow and treacherous Bridge over the Chasm of Destruction to a perilous Ledge on the other side. Some distance away, however, there is a cave where friendly people are offering shelter. The Ledge continues, a little wider, and for a slightly shorter distance, to another cave. All along the right Wall of the Chasm, the Ledge rises higher and higher, becoming wider all the way. It eventually makes it to the top of a Ridge which rises as far as one can see, into the future. In the distance on this Ridge are magnificent cities and prosperous lands, open fields and luxurious forests, clean air and water, room to grow, and obvious advancements in every direction imaginable.

The Path of Comfortable Wealth, however, rises much faster and becomes a smooth road almost immediately. To the industrious climber, all sorts of inducements and rewards are available: fast cars, fast planes, shortcuts that can zoom you to incredible wealth before you realize it, comfortable homes and better service as you rise higher and higher along the Path.

Occasionally, intrepid travelers find a way to go from the Path of Wealth to the Path of Idealism, but unfortunately for most of them, their airplanes crash or their balloons run out of hot air, and they fall into the Chasm of Destruction below. Not all who make the journey are well received, but there are some who are very welcome when they reach the Path of Idealism. Those who are most welcome are the people with ability and knowledge, people who can make their own lives better and in the process improve the world around them: People with something to contribute to Society.

Why would anyone want to leave the Path of Comfortable Wealth? There are several reasons, actually. This Path ends in a Volcano - the result of Social Unrest, Bureaucratic Incompetence and Mismanaged Responsibilities. The Volcano is becoming more and more violent, spewing out vapors of Inflation and ashes of Destruction. Along the Path, there are many sharp curves where the fast climbers some times careen off the Edge in their fast cars. Earthquakes of changing fads regularly destroy the Tunnels built by the shortcut makers. As an added problem, the Path is patrolled by Bureaucratic Policing Forces who erect barriers to collect Taxing Tolls and impose Arbitrary Limitations to try to slow the Able to the level of the Incompetent. A person who takes carefully calculated risks can quickly rise to some desired level of Wealth, then stay in comfortable accommodations there. The problems with doing so are that the Tax Collectors very often come around with demands of "more, More, MORE!", and the Volcano will eventually swallow the whole Mountain. Those who wish to escape to the Path of Idealism not only have to contend with the natural troubles, but also with the fact that the Bureaucrats don't like to see anyone get away from their control and will use any method to prevent it. (That is also one of the Dangers of the first part of the Path of Idealism.)

I think now I've given you a pretty good idea of my perception of the situation I'm facing. The Path of Idealism is where I want to end up, but I'm hesitant about starting down that Path. Most who start in that direction leave everything behind. Those who do take something take very little with them. It's worth it in the long run, but does it really need to be that difficult? I'd like to start enjoying Comfortable Wealth fairly soon, and I'm quite sure I could figure out a way to the Path of Idealism when the time came. Several problems are imbedded in that approach, though: People's tastes change, and as a result, a path to Wealth one day sometimes changes to a path to Destruction the next. Careful planning can get you out of most of that, but not all. No matter what you do, the Government always tries to figure out some way to extract some of your Wealth from you. They then use that Wealth to more heavily pursue the Idealists, to impose more Limitations, and to beef up their Collection System. The net result of all of that is that the Volcano becomes a little more heated and closer to destruction. The best Plan for Escape becomes totally useless the day the Volcano explodes and consumes the whole Mountain with it. Predicting the timing and planning for the best results can become very tricky, indeed.

Now I am confronted with a situation where I must choose: Shall I take the Path of Comfortable Wealth and jump to the Path of Idealism just before it turns away, knowing that as I follow the Path of Wealth I'm giving the Bureaucrats bullets to take pot shots at me with? Shall I take the Path of Idealism from the start? Or, shall I take the Path of Comfortable Wealth and try to guess when and how to make a Daring Escape with as much as I can, knowing that my timing might come a little too late, or that I might slip and reveal my plans to someone I shouldn't?

Which path would YOU choose? send me some email
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