Which Is The Right Path?
By David Metcalfe
January 31, 2020
In the 2009 movie “Mr. Nobody”, a man named Nemo Nobody has the ability to foresee his future based on various critical life decisions at age 9, 15, and 34.
For example, when he is 9, his parents divorce, and he has to decide who to live with. He loves them both equally and hates the thought of abandoning one of them. His ability to foresee his future allows him to trace alternate lives that he would live based on his decision. From there he also gets to make alternate life paths at 15 and 34.
In some of his potential lives he is very wealthy, others very poor. In some he has a family, and others he is single. In some he dies young, and others he lives to old age. So on and so forth, there are a huge variety of possible lives he can live, and it’s very difficult to know which one is the best one.
But in one of the potential life paths, he falls very in love with a lady named Anna. They love each other so much that he decides no matter what else his life is like, he just wants them to be together; so whichever decisions he has, he wants it to unite them.
I love the story because it’s such a powerful statement of destiny, free will, and trying to make sense of it. It ultimately makes a case that love is the greatest, most powerful, and most meaningful thing we can experience, and that a life in pursuit of that is a good thing.
I think Nemo Nobody thinks a lot like Paul in his letter to the Corinthians:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
When Nemo really considered all the potential lives he could live, he ultimately didn’t care about the one that brought him the most wealth or the most sex or the most fame or any of that; he wanted the one that brought him the greatest love. In a temporal sense, romantic love is probably the highest form of love. In a spiritual sense, union with God is the highest form of love.
Paul had a similar decision to make in his life. He could’ve had a successful career and family life, but God called him to a very unique purpose, and he chose to pursue that, despite a lot of difficulty.
As I think about my own life, I try to consider the many paths before me and the many results they could have. But I do not have the gift of foreknowledge of all my potential choices like Nemo, and do not have a specific calling from God himself like Paul. But I do agree with them; a life in pursuit of meaningful, loving relationship seems like the best path to take. We get many opportunities to experience love with friends, family, communities, and hopefully romantic love. And we all have the opportunity to seek a loving relationship with God by gaining an understanding of who He is and the message He has for us.
At the end of the movie, Nemo is 118 years old and on his death bed, and someone asks him, “so which is the right one?”. Nemo answers, “Each of those lives is the right one. Every life is the right path.” What he learned is that no matter which path you choose in life, you can always find love in it. Even in the paths where he didn’t get to be with his true love, he formed other relationships that were meaningful to him.
I guess what I mean to say is that no matter what career you end up with, or what spouse you marry (or don’t marry at all), or how rich you are, or any of that stuff, you can find meaning in your life by caring about those around you, and pursuing God in whatever life situation you happen to find yourself in.
So which is the right path? The one where you can find love (aka all of them).