Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Heading for Home
Three times a week or so, I find myself out and about, running errands, and trying to decide which route to take home. From the downtown area of the nearest town, there are at least three different ways I can take, each of them no more than five miles from my house, all equally valid depending on the day and time.
One of them involves going through a residential neighborhood, so the speed limit is 25 MPH, but the traffic there during off-hours is generally light and there is only one stoplight between downtown and my house.
Another route is along a busier road, but unless you're heading North between 4:30 and 6:30 PM, you won't generally see much traffic, and I can drive 40 MPH.
The third route is the one Bubba invariably takes. You can drive along a four lane road and, although there are several stoplights, the traffic generally moves better going North in the afternoon than on any of the other routes. Despite that, I don't often choose that one because it means that, from downtown, I have to drive South several blocks before turning onto the road to head North towards home and it bothers me to go so obviously in the 'wrong' direction, even if it means I'll get to eventually go in the 'right' one.
I often make the decision about which way to head for home as I'm sitting at the same stoplight, pondering all of the variables. Occasionally, if Bubba and I have met for dinner downtown, we purposely take different routes and see which one of us arrives home first.
As I sat at the light yesterday, looking at the clouds to determine how soon the rain would begin and thinking about why it matters which way I take home, it occurred to me that while I consider my options every time, I feel 'safe' taking any of the routes because the end point is the same no matter what. I know that even if it means I arrive home a few minutes later, it's not a big deal. There is no bad choice. I'll still be home.
Hmmm. I wonder if there is a way I can start thinking about my life in the same way. Some of my decisions will lead me in the opposite direction to begin with, but I can always turn and eventually be heading in the direction I need to go. Others will mean that I'm stuck behind others going slower than I'd like, but so long as I get where I'm going, does it matter? Maybe that slower route will mean that I get to have a different conversation with my girls in the car, or I miss seeing a nasty accident, or I get home just in time to meet the neighbor I haven't seen in weeks out by the mailboxes.
Even if, in my life, I don't necessarily know what my end point is, can I trust that I'll get there one way or another?
My dad was famous for finding 'shortcuts.' He loved driving and would often load us all up in the car on a Sunday afternoon to get lost in the country. He always maintained that he knew exactly where he was, but we kids (and my mom) knew better. He would go these crazy circuitous routes that never ended up being shortcuts at all, but he was so happy to just be driving around looking at the things we flew past.
Maybe he knew that we would always end up at home, too. Maybe, despite making a wrong turn or two along the way, he knew that we would eventually find our way back to our garage, safe at home for another Sunday night.