Detour – “an indirect or roundabout procedure, path, etc.”.
This weekend I visited the Howard Hilton. It’s that time of year…a time to relax and recharge at my little home away from home. Due to a major rock slide on I-40, my usual route was closed and I had to follow an alternate path. One of the things I cherish most about driving on a Friday night is the time afforded me to reflect and unwind from my busy work week. As I was making my way west late Friday through meandering, mountainous back roads, the thought struck me as to how often life is filled with detours. Those moments when life as we know it gets turned upside down and we are forced to take an alternate route. The last few years of my life have held one detour after another and I find myself facing a change of plans once again.
While experiencing all the deviations from my planned life course , I have learned detours can be rather scary things. Much like my Friday night commute, any new way of getting-where-I’m-going is foreign. Unsure of turns required and unaware of upcoming bends in the road, I am forced to travel at a slower pace. The same principle applies to life events. When taking an unfamiliar path, I must slow down and pay attention. I can no longer drive on auto-pilot. The comfort of the familiar is gone. I must rely on maps and road signs for direction on the highway, looking to friends and life experience for direction in life. Of course modern technology offers mapping systems to “talk” me to my intended destination, but a GPS for life is yet to be invented. Even if a modern miracle occurred and I was able to map my life’s course of action by pushing a few buttons, the mapping systems are rarely updated with detour information. When roads are closed, the traveler finds himself lost and confused…a place I’ve often found myself when meeting life’s roadblocks. A great amount of faith and a good sense of direction are needed to “motor on”.
There is, however, an up side to having my world shaken and stirred. Detours do not mean defeat. The goal, or intended destination, can still be reached. Occasionally, an altered plan is easily spotted and life continues. Other times, more thought and ingenuity is required to map a new path. There are even times the change allows me the chance to consider the path I am on. Do I need to go where I’m going? Or is another road… another city… another location meant for me? Maybe I shouldn’t be traveling in the first place. It could be I am already right where I need to be. Detours can alter and/or validate decisions. My encounters with alternate life routes have provided opportunities for growth and a chance for improved self-awareness.
I’ve traveled some dark and scary roads and certainly hit a few potholes on my back road journeys. I’ve also come to appreciate that some of the back roads took me through scenic areas I would have never had the chance to enjoy were it not for the change of plans. Then again, there were those times I couldn’t wait to get back to familiar territory. This time I have no idea which path I will take. I need to map a course of action and just go with it… see where it leads. Regardless of where I land, I will do what I always do and keep on truckin’.
So today I raise my glass to life’s detours. May they prove to be pot-hole-free-panoramic by-ways that get me back to the well-lit-smooth-sailing highway of life. Cheers!