Road Closed, Change Directions

Late last summer I had to change my route from home to wherever I was headed. The most expedient, convenient, logical way from my house to the main thoroughfare was inaccessible. My road was closed. I could no longer take my familiar way through 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 know me understand 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 I 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 was 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 ran into the closed road and 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 neuro-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—nor will it be the last, I’m sure. Just when I thought I’d gotten the napping, feeding, diaper changing routine down with a new baby, the kid would change her routine. Fewer, but longer naps, a wider variety of foods and at different times, diaper changes that went from docile to a wrestling match—things changed and my customary road was closed.

We all encounter detours. And when that happens, do we fight? Embrace? Surrender? Rebel? Deny? That’s the choice before us when the road ahead is suddenly 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 and comforting. It helps us manage decisions that can seem overwhelming in this stimulating, high-option world in which we live.

However, being asleep at the wheel when change happens leads to back-tracking, unnecessary grief and sometimes painful consequences. Some routines serve us well. Others require attention to a road closure, a detour—a change that calls for us to be alert and to engage differently.

I’m now fairly comfortable with the new route, where my neurons fire so I automatically turn right instead of left. And now, guess what? The bridge is finished, the road re-opened. That change means new decisions ahead of me. Which way shall I turn this morning?

You’re invited to join our FB Mevoke group, a place to gather and field questions, share ideas and support one another. Simply request admittance and you’ll be golden.

Posted in change, Emotional Health, Life Practices, routines, self-help, transitions on 08/26/2017 12:30 pm

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