Here you are driving along, not a care in the world. You’ve left yourself ample time to get to your destination when suddenly, there it is... DETOUR! The road ahead is closed, it’s the only way you know, yet that slightly bored patrolman directs you to turn off your well-known path. How do you react? Any thoughts cross your mind in that moment?? Let’s just say some of them might not be fit to print!
But do we have to react in such a negative way? Does a detour need to upend your trip (and your mood)? In both driving and in life, a road block might offer much more than a temporary nuisance. It’s all about perception.
Last time I found myself in an endless line of detouring cars, yes, I initially mumbled a few choice words at the blameless road workers who blocked my way. But being on the other side of 60, and determined to live a life of greater ease, I took a deep breath and had a brief chat with myself. “Rosemary, what if instead of letting this be a nuisance, you could soften a little and see it as a possibility?” With this new mindset I dutifully followed the posted Detour signs. I tried to think about Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Less Traveled. I opened my windows, turned up my music and tried my best to allow for the magic of the moment. As you may have already guessed, it turned out to be a lovely ride. I even came across a farmer’s roadside stand filled with all kinds of delights. None of this would have been possible if not for the detour.
The same holds true in life. Roadblocks present themselves all the time. How do you greet life’s detours? When things don’t go exactly as you planned, what’s your response?
Some of us barrel through all obstacles. We plan, we scheme, we analyze every angle. We might spend hours of time and mental energy forcing our way to our desired outcome. (Yes, you see me shrinking down low in my chair as I recognize my stubborn, Type-A self)
Some of us become immobilized. We fret, we fuss, we moan and wring our hands. “What shall I do? Things are not going the way I planned.” The roadblock becomes a full stop.
My most recent roadblock involved a glitchy software program. You know the type. For unexplained reasons, the program just stopped doing what I needed it to do. How did I react? I kept trying to make it work the way I expected it should. Initially, I tried the same few clicks over and over again. No surprise, the result was the same every time. Next, I walked away for a few moments and returned to try again. A sneak attack, as it were. Nope, no luck. I analyzed, searched Google and You Tube, certain I could turn things around. I even called customer support, and although we initially got things working again, 15 minutes later... crash! Did I get back on the line with my kind and helpful tech? That had always been my go-to response. But just like my driving detour, I took a deep breath and had a chat with myself.
“Rosemary, can you consider for a moment that this roadblock is here for a reason? Maybe what you’re working on is not the road you’re meant to follow right now.” This thought has always scared me. If I change course, walk away, maybe I’ll never have this chance again! You see, it’s our fear that we have but one shot at our “golden ring” that causes us to cling so tightly to controlling the outcome. Whatever your golden ring might be, all humans share the fear that to take our hands off the wheel, even for a moment, will result in imminent disaster. I was definitely operating from a place of fear as I tried to control my uncooperative software. The glitch was, in actuality, a mirror to see myself and reassess my actions. The project that I had been working on was born from a place of joy, community and connection. But my ego, my goals and my plans had hijacked all the joy and most of my heart’s intent. I was no longer sharing my joy; I was marking things off an ever-growing to-do list. The software glitch forced me to take a “time out” from the busyness my ego’s goals and plans had created.
Frankly, trying to force Life to bend to my will is exhausting, and I can see when it’s time to wave the white flag and surrender control. All right, Life, I recognize that I need to loosen my grip on the wheel. I see Your cosmic roadblock, and I’m willing to ride shotgun while You take the wheel for a while. Who knows? Maybe just like my earlier driving adventure, Your detour will lead me to a roadside stand of unimaginable possibility. I’ll never know unless I give it a try…