Sighs and Growls and Yields
Detours in Life
Most of us tend to either sigh or growl when our smooth path in life is certainly diverted to a detour. Look up synonyms for the word “detour” and those sighs and growls are easily understood. A detour is the long way around, a deviation, roundabout or indirect route, a pain in the … well, you know. Very few of us encounter a detour and go “Yippee!” Maybe we should.
We like to begin our day with an agenda, a plan for getting done all that needs to be done. We might have a to-do list; we certainly have obligations to meet. We develop a course of action and then we proceed on it. Life, however, has other ideas and turns our well-ordered day planning into chaos. In short, we have to take a detour.
We all too often think of detours as stop signs. We need to recognize that detours are really opportunities, diversions to look at life more fully. When I began this series, I had it all planned out. The series will encompass over one hundred and eighty articles but I had it all worked out. Whew! Then a family member’s surgery, the death of a close friend, some technical issues (Updates are really exercises in patience, I’ve decided!), and weather delays made mush out of my carefully calculated series. In short, I found myself on a detour. And I did not like it.
Detours are diversion, not stop signs and yet, we tend to treat them as if they were. Stop signs are not the end of everything, either. A stop sign means you got from point A to point B and need to take a moment to look around before proceeding to point C. Nothing more, nothing less is indicated by a stop sign. It is not failure but rather a sign of progression. A dead end street does not need a stop sign; it simply ends.
Another sign one encounters on the road is a yield sign. Usually we are happy when we come upon a yield sign because it means we don’t have to come to a complete stop every time. We can simply merge into the traffic, providing the path is clear. I live in a town with a great many yield signs and I cannot think of one that has not been the scene of at least one traffic accident.
All too often we simply merge into the mainstream of flow without really looking at where we are going. We “go with the flow” but do we really know or care where the flow is headed? Life is too important to simply merge into the masses. We need to take the time to stop and discover who we really are and what we really want. My detour with this series did just that for me.
My first detour sign was realizing my own aggravation and frustration that was a bit excessive. I needed to relax and take a break. I decided to color, a long favorite activity that has become a great stress reliever. However, IO began to pressure myself to create a perfect picture. I copied a picture to color and, instead of trying to make it perfect, I attempted to make it creative. Jeff and Joan Stanford run a retreat and Joan has some great thoughts about our need for taking a detour and exploring play. “Connecting to creativity is essential to our health… Coloring within the lines is relaxing but the power lies in creating, in discovering and expressing inner imagery.” In short, there is power when we take a detour.
Sylvia Boorstein was recently interviewed by Michael McConnell for an article entitled “What to Do When Your Mind Starts to Growl” in the most recent issue of Spirituality and Health Magazine. I purchased the issue for a peace on praying, and then discovered an article on mindfulness. Life interrupted my reading until my sudden detour for this series had me cleaning up. In this article Boorstein comments: “People can get tunnel vision and get very clear about what will or won’t work in a given situation…It’s actually good to have a mind that growls so you can figure out what needs to be done.”
My detour had me growling and sighing and then I began to think, ponder and relax. Within that relaxation I found the beauty of my detour and began enjoying the diversion. The detour sign was leading me to new experiences and new pathways. It was not a sign of failure but one of change. That is what detours are, after all. They represent growth. My growling and sighing are sign of growth, not failure.
It important to remember is that our lives are too important to live them merging into the masses. We are unique and wonderfully created individuals. We need to explore and celebrate our detours for what they are – an opening for better living, necessary growth, and brighter prospects for the future.