Navigating Shortcuts

For as knowledgeable as I am in many areas, my sense of direction and navigation skills has been a running joke in my family for many years now.  I will fully confess I have given them a fair amount of ammo in this department – from ending up in Wasco instead of at the coast because I turned my GPS off for telling me I was going the wrong direction (“I don’t know why it keeps telling me to turn around, that’s irritating.  I’ll just turn it off, I know I’m going the right way.”) to just discovering a few years ago that Alaska and Russia are literally right next to each other (“Katie, where did you think Alaska was?” “I don’t know. It’s always been in a box just above Hawaii to the left of Mexico somewhere in the Pacific Ocean”), people who know me usually settle in (or cringe) when I’m driving and say, “Oh yes! I think I know a shortcut!”


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I finally started to learn from my “mishaps” of the past, however, and a few years ago set a few driving rules:
1) Use the GPS.  And don’t turn off the navigation if it’s saying to turn around.
2) Don’t take shortcuts.  Just go the way you know is going to get you there, even if it takes a few extra minutes…because usually the shortcuts take much longer than a few extra minutes.


 

I’m happy to say since then, I’ve been sticking to my rules and keeping my shortcuts to a minimum.


Until yesterday afternoon.


I had just finished a 10 hour day and was on my way to squeeze in some quick errands before heading to a volleyball game when I saw brake lights up ahead.  I didn’t really have time for traffic, so I went in the other lane to avoid the cars backing up and maybe squeeze in when it was time to take my exit.  As I got closer to the off-ramp, I saw this wasn’t the usual 5 o’clock traffic – this was bad, and there was no way I was going to be able to simply squeeze back in.


“Ahh that’s okay,” I thought to myself. “I’ll take a shortcut!”


I kept driving up the 41 and figured I’d just get off on the next exit and circle back around.  I felt a bit smug as I drove past all the other cars and was back on the open road.  Except for there wasn’t an exit right around the corner.  Surely it couldn’t be that far…. That was about the time I noticed the traffic on the other side of the freeway was getting slightly congested.  And as the next exit came more and more into sight, the on-ramp traffic on the opposite side of the freeway was very congested.


“Ahh that’s okay,” I thought to myself.  “I’ll take a shortcut!”


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Well, that shortcut was working out great…until I hit not one dead-end, but three.  THREE dead-ends.  Seriously??  Now, not only do I have to drive all the way back to the freeway, but then I have to wait in traffic just to get on the freeway AND wait in traffic to get back to my original exit.  Even I knew the only other route I could think of would certainly NOT be a shortcut.  This road was my only option. 


As I sat going about 3 mph on the 41, I couldn’t help but think how I probably would have already been done with my errands by now if I had just stayed on the original path and waited in the initial traffic.  I didn’t know then how long my “shortcut/s” would actually set me back, but I realized I definitely wasn’t making it to the volleyball game at that point.  By the time I got to where I was headed, my “shortcut” had taken an hour.  An hour.  Something that seemed so simple and so sly and so easy and so sure in the moment had gotten me completely off track, changed my plans, and I STILL ended up having to do the very thing I was trying to avoid in the first place.


I didn’t want to wait.


I didn’t want to sit.


And as I sat in my car, knowing all other options were exhausted, I realized how much this little lesson parallels my life:


When I see brake lights up ahead, I’d rather find a quick way around the congestion than stop and face it.  I don’t want to wait and sit; I want to fix it and find a shortcut so I can get back in the game and keep moving forward.  The problem is sometimes my emotional and spiritual “shortcuts” are like my driving shortcuts – they make me feel like I’m moving forward because I am moving, but the road doesn’t really end up leading anywhere.  I hit a dead-end, turn around, find a different road, and stay motivated to keep trying….until I realize that’s also a dead-end…and so is the next one.  This continues until I exhaust all viable options in my head, and THEN give in to getting back on the original road, where I still have to wait through traffic.  The bright side is I now know a few roads to avoid next time, but the time is still lost.


~~~


I share this because there’s been a topic that keeps coming to mind and I’ve wanted to write about it this past week, but the right words haven’t come yet.  It’s come up in multiple conversations the past few months, but I haven’t figured out the best way to link my thoughts together.  I’ve been going down different roads and hitting dead-ends, and I need to wait just a little bit longer before it all comes together.  It’s not quite a controversial topic, but it can be easily forgotten when life circumstances change.  Are you ready, ladies? (And gentlemen – I know you’re reading too 😉 )


S I N G L E N E S S


It’s not an ugly word, I promise!  At least it doesn’t have to be…but it can be painful, right?  And lonely?  And make you question if you did/are doing/will do something wrong?  Or if you’re enough?  Or make you feel less than you truly are?


The power of the word lies in how we perceive it.  It’s taken many years, but I’m finally in a place where most days this word makes me smile even at my core (mostly because I am okay with my laundry baskets full and the fridge empty and my bedroom clutter in the dining room because I repainted my room last weekend – you don’t live here, I don’t care what you think!).  All that aside, I want to talk about singleness, yet the more I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized my thoughts are deeper and more interwoven than I thought.  There are a lot of layers, and I don’t want to “take a shortcut” around the hard parts – because those are important.


So make sure to follow my blog – this next one’s going to be a doozy!


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