What are your first thoughts when you hear the word ‘crossroads’? What do you imagine? It may depend if you are a driver or not, or whether or not you like hiking. If you know where you are going, crossroads can be helpful to take the right turn. It may also depend on where you are living now, or come from.
If you don’t know where (exactly) you are going, or if the area is new to you, crossroads/intersections can be very tricky. You may use various factors to decide where to turn: an attractive street name? Beautiful buildings? One question is, how are you going to decide where to go next? Being a tourist in a place may mean your choice is freer, and less responsible (you are sightseeing, and it can hardly go wrong). But if you are there on business, if you need to get to a place, you need to know the turn. To make that decision.
In the modern world, you need a map, or a smart phone with a navigator/interactive map. You have it, of course. Many maps will show you more than one route, and you again need to choose how to get to the destination point.
On the map, you can see where you are: ‘You Are Here’ icon is pointing that out. You will soon reach the destination point, because you know the answer to the question ‘Where Now?’ and you have a map (or a compass/sports watch on a hike).
Unlike those times in our lives when we reach a metaphorical ‘intersection’ with more than one option (or door!) in front of us, and it feels like the right points to make a decision. Except that we don’t always have a map at hand. Or the metaphorical phone is not fully charged. Or (and that can be even more tricky!) we can’t understand where the starting point is.
Not all the answers may be clear right away. The crossroads may even look quite messy!
At first, I was trying to see if our Hand Template (from ‘It’s in (Y)Our Hands‘ project) could be applied here. I thought about these simple steps for a classroom activity (adapted from the Decision Book):
- Define where you are, think what brought you here.
- Think of a goal you have.
- List the roads (or choices) in front of you. Can be between 5 and 10, so that we can use the template and write the roads beautifully.
The final result would be a neat hand image with several possible ‘roads’ to take. A perfect lesson for ‘Going to’ and ‘planned actions’? Hm…
I then thought about younger learners, and thought how they could imagine a crossroads ‘squeezed into’ a hand template. It was fun to be thinking of some ways to do it.
I asked myself if I see any other/more artistic/graphic way of creating your own intersection? How do I feel right now? You could tell I really had fun with that 🙂
Are you at the crossroads at the moment? What of roads do you see at the moment? Can you give them a name? What kind of decisions are you taking now? Whichever those are, I am wishing you a safe and smooth journey.
P.S. Some of my Ukrainian colleagues and friends (and readers of this blog!) had to leave the country earlier this year in search for a safer place for themselves, their kids and parents. For many this meant leaving their home behind, saying goodbye to husbands and brothers (they can’t leave the country due to the military state). In the new place, they have to find a job, a place to stay, etc. That whole situation is a huge intersection. While this post is aiming at offering a solution, I hope these notes and ‘crafts’ made some of you smile, and bring further friendly conversations, for your classes, and our chats. Sending hugs, and #StandWithUkraine!
P.P.S. The idea of various doors (and then crossroads) came up in our recent Reflective Group Meeting. Who knows, we may take some more time to speculate about the options and choices we have. If we do, there will be another blog post!
True story: During the Second World War, a man was working by himself in a part of a ship that was being built. He found himself imprisoned in a small chamber with no way to escape. The hatch that he would need to open to extricate himself had 8 bolts, none of which would turn. Of course, you can imagine the panic. His first response was to frantically try turning every bolt until his fingers were raw. But this man was used to listening, with the understanding that there was an answer to every problem, every challenge. So, he finally just put his hands in his lap to quiet the fear (your image, “What are you afraid of”), which is the crux of every problem we face–weather, financial, health, relationships, war. As he listened, he was led to try one certain bolt. It moved. Then panic. Then hands back in his lap, and then another bolt. One by one the bolts loosened in the order that would free him. So here we have many crossroads–fear and panic or perhaps even death or hands in lap and quiet listening. 8 bolts (paths)–which order???
In my own experience, I was at a crossroads when we closed all of our SIT Cert courses, with no idea of what I might do next. I was not ready to retire. My life seemed to be a void. But just as this man believed, I knew there was an answer. So, I put my hands in my lap and thought, “I am but the humble servant of the restful Mind.” This comes from the book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, the textbook of Christian Science. In other words, I was tapping into the one intelligence that governs the universe. Within two weeks I got the call to go to Albania, Algeria, Kyrgyzstan, Angola, and then the on-line courses for FHI. The answers require humility and listening.
So, when we reach a crossroad(s), we need not panic become confused, remain in the dark, make poor choices, if we will only listen to the one intelligence governing the universe who has a wonderful purpose for each one of us. And by the way, has all the solutions to the War in Ukraine.
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As always, thank you for the kindness, the beautiful story, talking about your own crossroads experience in the past, and the support and care I feel reading your comment, Ron.
‘The Bolted Hatch’ seems to be a new metaphor now (and maybe, a new reflection activity to consider?) I see that the main skill the man had was that of listening, and even quieting the fear, it seems, included the ability to listen (to himself, to the ship, to the situation overall, and to the Universe speaking to him. To all the people ‘at intersections’, each at a different time of their lives. To the whole countries sometimes, as with Ukraine now. I think we are listening.
Have checked the book you mentioned and see that it was selected as one of the 75 Books By Women Whose Words Have Changed The World.
Finally, I hope this can be an activity to try out with teachers or language learners. And… to come up with a new one? Thank you for our connection, I really value it!
Thank you, Zhenya for this very inspirational post. It made me think of the many crossroads I faced in my life (and still facing). I love how you made such an abstract and critical concept very easy to work on in the classroom. You could really draw a smile on my face and a “thought bubble” in my mind.
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Thank you for the warm comment Rasha! Yes for the smiles and “thought bubbles”, and for ‘untangling’ some of our life intersections. Or at least reflecting on them in a lesson 🙂
I was thinking to ask you to try one of them out if you have a chance to work on a course with teachers some time soon. Or any time actually!