18 October 2019

The Crossroads: what does it mean?

I asked several friends, “What does ‘The Crossroads’ mean to you?” Their answers varied, but even still, there were similar themes.

Decisions and consequences, change and results. Journeys and opportunities, great potential and potentially great loss, letting go, and cycles of life, death and rebirth. Those ideas were present across perspectives. One friend said, “A threshold/ liminal place where the worlds are pinched together.” Another discussed the potential of the space also being frustrating, because to them, the unknown can be frightening, but can ultimately lead to a better place.

Another idea that people agreed upon is that a Crossroads is a place to reflect, then choose a direction – not a place to dwell. Sit, learn, listen, maybe commune with others, then make a decision to move. The option exists to choose a direction from there, and that could simply be to “carry on.”

We each face crossroads fairly regularly. Some crossroads are small, and some are glacial. Another theme that I heard a few times in the answers from my friends was that these decisions we make at each road we cross can affect us greatly as individuals and as a community at large.

When I hear the expression, “The Crossroads,” several things come to mind, but two things stick out more than the others: Supernatural (the hit TV show), and a rap song from the 90s by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.

In the TV show Supernatural, there are Crossroads demons, and these demons grant the supplicant some request, from saving a wife from cancer, to becoming the world’s best blues player (a long-standing real-life Blues tale from the 1930s), to restoring a brother’s soul from hell back to Earth. There are a lot of rules around these demons, including how to summon them, and the contract itself, which requires the supplicant to give up their soul 10 years from the date of the compact.

The song Tha Crossroads by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony was released in 1996, and met with virtually instant commercial success. It was a tribute to the late Eazy-E, who was a supporter of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s early days. What a lot of people don’t realize is that this is a re-imagination of an earlier version of their song, The Crossroads. The original had more explicit lyrics, and never (or rarely?) saw radio play, but also had some lyric gems, such as, “thinkin’ back, in the days when we did some f*cked-up thangs / Now I gotta ask God if that’s the reason my homie’s gone away.” It was a staunch admonishment of the “shoot first” mentality of the 90s gang wars, which they also expressed beautifully in Change the World (not to be confused with Eric Clapton’s song of the same title).

What resounds with me about Tha Crossroads in particular is how many people I know personally who have direct connections to this song. By the time you’re my age (ahem… mid 30s), you’ve certainly lost someone in your life. A family member, a community member, or people you’re close to. When I was 15, my best friend’s boyfriend was struck by a car on his way to pitch in a baseball game, after actively working on turning his life around for the better, and was killed on the scene. My best friend was grief-stricken for months, and it took her into a spiral of so many problems. I remember very clearly at his funeral that a single (tape) of Tha Crossroads was placed in his casket, and that was one of the most meaningful things for all of us. It was a beautiful tribute to a friend and fellow rap fan, and I remember that moment every time I hear that song.

Both of these pop culture references to Crossroads serve to remind us to make the most of the time we have here on this plane. One reminds us that we have limited time here, and the other reminds us to make our decisions carefully because there may be repercussions.

These thoughts and musings on “The Crossroads” bring me to a few conclusions: life is a journey, and what we do matters. Life is short, in the grander scheme of things, and we should make the most of it while we are here, and be deliberate with our choices and our energies. Where have you been? What have you overcome to get here? Which way will you go when you come to the next crossroads? Who will you take on your journey with you? To whom will you wish farewell as your paths diverge? What will you do along the way?

How will you impact the world around you?

By Laura, Accord Editor
Special Thanks to Kait, Darren, Slinky, Lindsey, Xandra, Martin, Amanda, John, Jensen, Rebecca, Willow, Mark, Meagan, Rachel, Julianne, and Kady for their thoughts and input.