Have you ever been on a road trip? Since I’ve met my husband, we’ve been on more road trips than I care to remember. You name it, I’ve probably done it on the road. I’ve slept, read, sung, laughed, fought, cried, changed diapers, fed babies, soothed toddlers, watched the same video a thousand times (THANK GOD for those DVD players!), played the ABC game, the license plate game, the cow vs. cemetery game, and all while riding in a car and/or driving. Of course, MY idea of a great road trip is when everyone interacts, we tell funny stories, learn more of each other, and have a sing-along, all the while creating memories to last a lifetime. You know, kind of like, Leave It to Beaver and The Brady Bunch combined.
I’m not sure any of that happened on our most recent road trip that was over 700 miles long. Driving from Middle Tennessee to Orlando, Florida, our family of four spent over 12 hours together one way in the confines of a 4-door vehicle. I guess we each had our own escape hatch if it got too bad.
Some things that DID happen:
• My 15 year old son got lots of driving experience, in major cities, on major interstates in MAJOR traffic, which gave me a major headache.
•My kids created a new word: “hangry”. This is when one is so hungry they get angry with others, which apparently I did (several times).
•Since my son drove, I did not sit behind the wheel at all! Instead, my daughter and I worked on different yoga positions in the backseat in order to get comfortable, a.k.a. car sleeping.
Going down seemed twice as long as the 12 hours it took because we waited entirely too late in the day for a long trip– noon to be exact. When we arrived at 1:30 am, I was beyond exhausted.
So, to make sure that we didn’t run into the same situation on the return trip, we left at 6:00 a.m. As I type, we are sitting in our second major traffic jam of the day. It’s 5:18 p.m. and we are still at least 4 hours from home. Everyone is getting weary and some of us might even be a bit “hangry” but at least one traffic jam was avoided early in the day thanks to the maps/GPS function on my son’s phone. It actually shows you the accidents and slow downs of the traffic. He was aware before we were caught in it, so we were able to take a detour. My husband has always said that he’d rather drive 5 miles out of his way instead of sitting still in traffic. So, off we went on a route that was not planned.
It got me to thinking about detours in my own life, and the advantages of such changes.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as the following:
noun \ˈdē-ˌtu̇r also di-ˈtu̇r\
: the act of going or traveling to a place along a way that is different from the usual or planned way
: a road, highway, etc., that you travel on when the the usual way of traveling cannot be used
The interstate we used to do most of our traveling had at least 4 lanes, and sometimes 6. It was fast-paced. There were no traffic lights to slow or stop traffic and very rarely did we see anything of interest besides commercial billboards as we buzzed by the countryside.
However, when we took the detour, we traveled on a two-lane road that had many stops and starts. There were different speed zones. We saw different towns, houses and businesses that each made up the flavor of that particular community. The pace was slower, which was good because there were many interesting things to look at and more places to rest along the way.
My own career has taken a sudden detour. The “planned way” of teaching until I retire came to a sudden stop and instead of just sitting there, I decided to go a different way. Up until recently, I have thought a lot about what I have given up. Now that I have looked at it as a “detour”, I’m thinking about what I have to gain by going a different route.
• I will be gaining a slower pace. Teaching is wonderful, but extremely stressful.
• I will be gaining a new and different perspective. By slowing down, I’m able to enjoy what life has to offer all around me.
• I will be gaining interesting things and new ideas that a new career will provide.
• I will be gaining new working relationships with people I meet along the way.
So, maybe you are sitting in a traffic jam in your life. You have two choices: You can wait it out or you can take a detour. I suggest you take the long road around and see what kind of surprises await for you.
What road trip “detours” have left a lasting memory for you?