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Making a Change: Freeway or Side Streets?

April 2, 2019

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

 

As I was blow drying my hair this morning, I began plotting my route to the office.  I could take the freeway, but it was morning rush-hour.  I could take side streets.  They'd be slow, but they would keep me moving.  All of a sudden, I realized that either choice would get me to the office about the same time.  The rush hour traffic on the freeway would drop the speed limit down to about the same speed as the side streets.  Why then did the freeway drive frustrate me so?  EXPECTATIONS!  By selecting the side street route, I expected to go between 40-50 mph and this expectation would be met, even with rush hour traffic.  But, the freeway has a built-in expectation of driving faster, 55-65 mph, depending on the section, with cars passing at 70-80 mph at times.  This built-in expectation of going faster is never met during rush hour.  Hence, frustration!

 

Change is similar.  Determining to make a change is like choosing the freeway.  We muster all of our will power, declare the change we are going to make, and expect to arrive at our destination as fast as we can with no traffic, collisions, or speeding tickets.  What we don't realize is making a change, especially the really important or big ones, is going to impact more than one aspect of our lives.  It will always have side streets, possible detours, and unintended consequences we do not or cannot anticipate.

 

After 30+ years as a smoker, my mom decided it was time to quit smoking.  She called me a week or so into her process, opening the conversation with, "I'm so pissed!"

"Why Mom?  What happened?"

"You know I quit smoking..."

"Yes."

"Well, I couldn't just quit smoking. I also had to quit drinking coffee, talking on the phone, and driving!"

"What?!"

"I pour myself a cup of coffee in the morning and automatically light a cigarette, so I had to switch to tea. I pick up the phone and light a cigarette.  I refuse to stop talking on the phone.  I get in the car and light a cigarette.  I've walked to work three times this week just so I didn't light a cigarette.  I have had to change my entire life just to quit smoking!"

 

Lots of side streets...  Needless to say, my mom never quit smoking.

 

The speed at which we travel determines how much of the journey we will engage and experience.  Flying in a plane at 30,000 feet only allows us to view the big picture.  Whereas, walking around the neighborhood provides a multitude of sights, sounds, smells, textures, temperature, and so many other sensations.  It makes me wonder if we end up jet lagged because our senses cannot locate us in time and space in the same way. 

 

This morning, I made the choice to take the side streets to work because the journey is more beautiful.  The warm morning sun poured through the windows.  The desert trees are green from all the rain.  The orange blossoms were intoxicating.  I even made a wrong turn that took me into a residential neighborhood that I had never been through before, absolutely gorgeous.  I was focused on the pleasant journey and not how fast I was going to reach my destination and the drive was without stress.

 

Choosing to change is no different.  When we focus on the destination and how fast we are going to arrive, our expectations will trip us up each and every time.  When we align with the path and speed that our body and senses require, it allows us to be more present to each moment.  And, who knows, we may even experience the beauty and joy of the journey. 

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