As I sat in traffic for more time than I wish to measure, I asked myself, “Why didn’t you take a side road?” And yet at the moment when I had to decide highway or side road I all too often make an instant decision to go the ‘faster’ route. As you can see from this photo, the ‘faster’ way was anything but that this evening. Traffic added almost an hour to my trip. And as I saw the minutes tick away, and realized I would never get that time back…I longed for a side road.
Every area has those routes. The path home that covers the road less traveled because it winds and bends and may actually be a longer distance to the destination. And yet I also know that the side road often yields a better journey. There is more to see than just the back end of other cars. I get to admire actual houses and neighborhoods, retail shops and landscaping. On the side road I am able to notice new buildings and beautiful old trees, freshly cut lawns and figure out which properties have just gone on or off the market. I see what is actually happening in the world around me, not just what a billboard wants to sell.
Since I had time in traffic, I thought more about side roads…especially in life. If you had told me thirty years ago that I would end up in rural Georgia…and love it…I would never have believed you. At that time I could only imagine life in the ‘faster’ lane, the path everyone takes. I wasn’t thinking about how I wanted to get there, I was in too much of a hurry to just get there. I also thought about side roads in terms of a career. I have had lots of great adventures and been blessed to see profitable and failing companies…some in the ‘fast’ lane and others on side roads. I learned from both, and yet the ones where I was able to actually experience a life and career may have been seen as a side road…but that is where I learned the most about my skills, abilities and myself.
The side road requires that you think more. You have to interact with what is around you, not just drive on like everyone else. You have to pay attention and you have to have some idea of what is happening on the road. You may not know exactly where the side road leads, and yet you know the general direction is correct. You can get lost on the side road and end up nowhere closer to your destination, and yet now you know where this road leads. It takes courage to take a side road, all the while hoping it is not backed up and that you won’t end up behind a school bus. The side road requires risk taking and a sense of freedom and even a little bit of gumption. It takes moxy to travel the road no one else takes. The side road is also a lot of fun. The side road provides and adventure not just the shortest distance between point A and point B.
What about where you are right now in your life? Is it time to get off the super highway that is crowded with other people trying to get to the same place? Are you ready to pay more attention and actually enjoy the trip? Are you ready for an adventure? Do you have the courage to change your life for the better and interact with your world instead of just moving along with everyone else? It might be time for that split second decision to take the side road to get where you want to go via a different path. And guess what, you won’t be alone. Others also travel the side roads and are usually willing to give freely of their wisdom. There is a comradery in the courage of the side road. So turn on your blinker and get off the highway, smell the cut grass and admire the old trees…