By Anne A. Wilson
The other day, my son needed a quote for school. The assignment was to pick a favorite, make a poster, then present the quote and its meaning to the class.
We brainstormed. Looked through a list of the “greats”—Einstein, Emerson, et al.—searching for that perfect nugget of wisdom to share.
In the end, we did find a “great.” A baseball great. Yogi Berra. The famed player and former manager of the New York Yankees.
But as far as dispensing words of wisdom . . . ? Well, his quotes are famously of the head-scratching variety.
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” I said, stating one of his more famous pieces of advice.
My son raised his eyebrows.
“I know. His quotes make no sense. So you just have to make up what you think it means. Like . . . it might mean, don’t follow the beaten path. Or, maybe, try something new. Be different. Or take chances. Or . . . ” And I found myself going on and on about what I thought it might mean, when all along, it was my son’s job to do that.
I shut up.
“So what do you think it means?”
He shrugged. “I think he just wants you to bend down and pick up the fork.”
Just as correct, if not more so, than anything I’d come up with.
In all my years, I’d never thought of the quote that way. In fact, I suspect nine out of ten people would hear “fork” and think, “point of merger for two trails.” But my son, along with many other one-out-of-tens, are probably thinking “cutlery.”
Who’s to say that Mr. Berra wasn’t encouraging us take an opportunity when it presented itself?
For me, this interaction served as a valuable reminder. How many times has the solution to a problem—whether it be a hurdle in city planning, a budget impasse, or a theory in physics—come from the one person who approached it from a different perspective?
We all know the answer to that one.
This public service announcement was brought to you by . . .
Diversity. Open-mindedness. Humility.
Good for society.
Good for progress.
Good for mankind.
And you can stick a fork in that.
Anne A. Wilson is the author of Hover and Clear to Lift. She was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a degree in ocean engineering. She served nine years active duty as a navy helicopter pilot, including three years flying search and rescue, where she specialized in high-altitude technical mountain rescue. Following her military service, she worked for four years in the semiconductor industry. Currently, she and her husband own a triathlon coaching company, Camelback Coaching. Anne lives in Fountain Hills, AZ, with her husband and two sons. To learn more, visit www.anneawilson.com.
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