This morning I took a longer walk than I expected. Because I am my father’s daughter, I have a hereditary penchant for “short cuts” that are not really shorter, so as I strolled through Dave’s neighborhood, I decided that if I took a left I would end up back at the parkway and be able to swing only a slightly larger circuit than I had intended, a little more exercise while still getting me back home where I wanted to be. I’m sure you can predict what happened – this was not a short cut – it was in fact a dead end (a cul-de-sac in suburban terms), and I had to double-back on where I had just walked.
Yet, in this midst of this detour, I got to thinking about how much this walk is like life. We sometimes do things thinking they’ll be short cuts or better routes to where we want to go. Sometimes we’re right, but if you’re like my dad and I, that short-cut is rarely truly shorter. But if you’re also like us, you may find that these short-cuts are often the most beautiful parts of the journey. You get to see things you didn’t know even existed – like the beautiful bed of impatiens someone had planted on my short-cut today. You get to find new routes to new places or back to the ones you know, or you get to double-back and rethink your path.
I think this may be the way we get to our dreams, through detours and short-cuts. Sometimes we dream of our ideal life, and we think that if we’re not there right now, we’re doing something wrong or missing something crucial. But if my life’s path has taught me anything it’s that the detours are always essential parts of the journey. Every job I’ve had that hasn’t been my “final destination” has taught me important things about my work or about myself. Every place I’ve lived has brought me to appreciate a new aspect of life on this planet. Every friend I’d made and lost, every road I’ve driven, every house/apartment/room I’ve lived in has added to my journey in ways I never knew I would love or need.
Somehow, I think the path to our dreams, to the life we were made for, is a series of detours. The path may not look straight or even narrow from our point of view, but from above, I bet we’re bee-lining for where we need to be. Who says the winding road is not really the most direct one?