In the Spring of 1973, the President of Haverford College, Dr. John Coleman, made a decision to do something in the spirit of advice he had given his students for years to break out of the patterns and routines of life. He decided to use part of his sabbatical to work blue collar jobs.
He kept a journal every day while he was doing these various jobs, like digging trenches for sewer lines and working in a restaurant, intending it really for his children, but wound-up publishing this as a book “Blue Collar Journal” in 1974.
The beginning of the book, though, is one of the most powerful parts of the book for me because as Coleman is driving out of his driveway in the college campus, and on Lancaster Avenue, the main road outside Haverford College, which is also the main road right outside my office, he came to this realization and had this sudden feeling of freedom that he was about to embark on this great adventure. Even though he had planned the trip of where he would go first to Atlanta, he realized as he pulled up to the intersection at Lancaster Avenue, that he had this additional freedom that even though he had planned to go in one certain direction, he said,” I felt freed just knowing I could change my mind on the spot.”
Even though he had that plan, he could change that plan and go the opposite way. I wonder how many of us are in situations in life where we feel stuck, we feel that there’s something already laid out for us or that we’re in a situation that we can’t control… but reading what Dr. Coleman wrote made me realize that we do have this freedom to choose and that the difference is the awareness that we have.
That freedom, the realization he had at the intersection that day, that no matter where you are in your journey in life, wherever you happen to be, one of those intersections in the road, that you have the power to choose, that you have the power to change that situation, and that you can experience that same freedom he felt on that day.