Late last summer I had to change my route from home to wherever I was headed. The most expedient, convenient, logical way from home to the main public thoroughfare was inaccessible. My road closed. No way could I take my familiar way by driving around barriers or outwitting the road construction. A new bridge was to be built and my little Prius wasn’t gonna make it across that ravine without some structural help. I was forced to change.
Those who have been hangin’ with me for a while know that changes in my life are often preceded by some catastrophic event. I have excellent blinders and I don’t do change gracefully, or at least haven’t in the past. So, I thought I’d use this prescribed detour as an opportunity to embrace change and see what happened.
What I discovered, again, is that I had to stay awake, alert and engaged in order to get where I was going. No more would mindless, rote actions get me where I needed to be. Only once did I take my habitual path, turning left instead of right and, of course, I had to turn around and backtrack. But for several weeks as I approached the end of our driveway, I recalled a change was in play and I had to stay sharp and act differently.
Discovery was the benefit. I laid down new neuron-nets and adjusted to an alternate pattern as I took in country roads complete with Sunday drivers (every day of the week), cyclists, olive groves and fields of domestic and exotic creatures. The detour forced me to slow down. Did I miss the old way? Of course, especially when what would have taken me 10 minutes to drive, now took 30 minutes, but there was nothing to be done for that save surrender. Despite the inefficiency of mileage, I did arrive at my destination. And on the journey felt renewed by the small adventures and fresh vistas arising from my detour.
This is not the first time I’ve learned this lesson of change- wakeful requirements, alert in current time, embracing the difference at hand, nor will it be the last, I’m sure. Like just when I thought I’d gotten the napping, feeding, diaper changing routine down with a new baby, the kid would change his or her routine. Fewer, but longer naps, a wider variety of foods and at different times, revamping diaper change from docile to a wrestling match, whatever—they changed and my customary road was closed.
We all encounter detours. The question is do we fight? Embrace? Surrender? Rebel? Deny? That is where the choice lies when the road is closed.
Routine is supportive, like a liturgy in worship, we know what’s coming next and our mind is free to commune with the divine or the day’s agenda. Routine is predictable, therefore comforting and eliminates decisions so abundant in this very stimulating, high-option world in which we live. However, sleeping at the wheel leads to back-tracking, unnecessary grief and sometimes painful consequences. Which routines serve us well and which ones require a road closure, a detour – change, alertness and engagement to acting differently?
I’m now fairly comfortable with the new route, neurons firing to turn right instead of left. And, guess what. The bridge is finished, the road re-opened.