The Road Less Traveled
I’d like to share with you some things I’ve learned from one of my favorite books, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, M.D. The book sold more than ten million copies and I bought one for myself and a few others for friends. It is so full of life lessons I will share just a few.
The book begins, “Life is difficult.” I often wonder if we should do more to teach this to our children early on. Seems to me that most Americans think life ought to be easier.
In the first section Peck addresses “discipline.” He states, “Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems.” He encourages us to:
- Delay gratification
- Accept responsibility
- Be dedicated to truth
- Prioritize different requirements in our lives.
Delaying gratification can be difficult to teach in our times when children are almost constantly on a digital device that responds immediately to their fingertips. Still many of our desires take time. We’ve had to learn to do what is required and wait. I like flowers and simple gardening. There is nothing instant in a garden. And seasons change. Results change. We just had a severe freeze and many of my lovely plants froze. They may come back in the spring. I will have to wait to see if they do.
“We cannot solve life’s problems except by solving them,” says Peck. He goes on to say as obvious as this is; it seems to be beyond the comprehension of much of the human race. As I look back I can think of times when I wanted someone else to solve a problem in my life. Problems are hard. That’s why they’re called problems. According to Peck one of our greatest problems is distinguishing what we are and are not responsible for in this life. I know that I had a great deal of difficulty with this on the job. I didn’t know how to sort it out and felt that necessary things wouldn’t get done if I didn’t do them. If I had set personal boundaries on my time I might have gotten the assistance I needed. Instead I tried to do it all.
Others avoid responsibility because it can be painful to do so. We avoid the pain. I work with single mothers who receive no child support. The fathers of their children simply refuse to accept responsibility for the children they fathered.
Dedication to truth is accepting reality—what is. “The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world. The less clearly we see the reality of the world—the more our minds are befuddled by falsehood, misperceptions and illusions—the less able we will be to determine correct courses of action and make wise decisions.” I encourage parents of young children to allow them, ever so gently, to see the reality of the world. Prepare them for the place they must learn to live in. To live a life of truth you must be willing to be challenged.
Balancing life can be tricky. Life is loaded with give and take. It’s learning how to juggle well that will keep you in balance. It is likely to mean changing the way you do some things in order to keep a balance in your family and work life. If it makes you uncomfortable to leave dirty dishes in the sink when your child wants you to help her with homework, you will have to balance or prioritize. Some of the rough experiences I’ve had have taught me that I can’t do it all. Single moms must learn that they can’t be all things to all people.
How do you relate to these points?
I hold a degree from Lamar University in Speech and a Master’s from the University of Texas. I was an educator in regular and special education for twenty years, finishing my professional career as a Braille teacher. I am a Certified Professional Coach with Fowler International Academy. I married Sam after raising three children as a single mother. In 2007 I founded SMORE for Women. SMORE is a nonprofit association whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, & Empowered. My stories have been published in several Christian books and magazines. My book, Living Learning Loving, published in July 2015, is available for purchase on CreateSpace, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble online.