Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Convoluted Path

Thought for the day:  If  you come to a fork in the road, take it.  (Yogi Berra)

I'm directionally challenged. Anyone who knows me well knows this. In fact, this particular shortcoming provided my husband with a good deal of cheap entertainment before we were married. In the 60s, gasoline was dirt cheap. I'm talking a quarter a gallon or less. (PLUS an attendant pumped it for you, checked your oil and tires, washed your windshield, gave you savings stamps, AND a free gift if you spent over two bucks!) Anyway, since the price of driving was so low, cruising was a fun and inexpensive way to spend an evening, and we did it often. We'd drive around in his '61 Impala,  talk, listen to the radio, and usually ended the evening by meeting friends at our favorite drive-in eatery, which also happened to be a prime spot for pop-up challenges and impromptu drag races. (Natch, we were purely spectators.)

Once in a while, we'd be tooling along, yammering, listening to the radio, with no particular destination in mind,  (at least, not in MY mind) and he'd suddenly turn to me, grin, and say, "Show me how to get back home."

Say, WHAT? Half the time, I didn't even know where we WERE, let alone how to get home from there, but I tried. Even succeeded most of the time. Of course, there were times he'd get weary of the whole game and say, "Are you SURE you want to go that way?" or, "I DO have to go back to work on Monday."

Going in circles isn't the problem. It's knowing when to exit.

The point is, even though I made a LOT of wrong turns, we eventually made it home again. So, maybe Yogi Berra was right when he said, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it." Maybe the precise route we take isn't nearly as important as we make it out to be. After all, there's more than one way to get from point A to point B. So what if our path is so round-about it resembles the ones taken by the kids in "Family Circus"? Or if we get side-tracked on a detour and take twice as long to get to our destination as we'd planned? So what if our sons and daughters quit college to do their own thing? Their paths to adulthood may not be the direct straight line paths we would've preferred, but as long as they make a success of the trip, isn't that all that matters?

 So what if I waited so many years before getting serious about writing? I'm here now.

If there were a cosmic information booth, I probably still would've chosen to wing it, rather than ask for directions to my predetermined destination. There's something empowering about picking our path when we come to those forks in the road, isn't there? One decision leads to another leads to another, and eventually our decisions bring us to the place we're supposed to be. Even if we make a wrong decision, it's never too late to change course. We may go the wrong way around the beltway, but baby, we're here now ... older, and hopefully wiser, for having taken the trip.

One of the longest side trips I took on the way to where I am today involved amateur radio. Getting a radio license had never been a part of my original plans,  so little did I know that once I did, my life would take so many other unexpected twists and turns. In a bizarre cause-and-effect path that indirectly started with my love of trivia and resulted in four terms as the Section Manager for my state, it was an exciting trip, and one I'll never regret taking. Next time, I'll tell you how following the path of amateur radio led me to such an amazing place, the President of the United States thanked ME.

So, how about you? Are you one of those fortunate people, like my husband, who set your guideposts early in life, and followed a fairly direct route to where you are today? Did you always have a love of writing, or of some other pursuit, and followed that clearly marked path as long as you can remember, with grit and determination? Or have you taken a lot of side trips and detours along the way?  (If you have, I hope you enjoyed them as much as I've enjoyed mine.)

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. Cool about the President thanking you! Which one? Current or former?

    I've always loved writing, but I didn't get serious (if you can call the stuff I write "serious") about it until after my kids were pretty much grown. Once they were out of my hair, I felt like I could devote enough attention to my characters to make them come alive on the page. For me, experiencing more of life before settling into a writing pattern has made all the difference.

  2. I have always loved words and poems that spoke of real life. Now I write those words mostly for myself but of late I have had great comfort from the comments of my fellow bloggers. It seems to point out that I am not the only one with these feelings that need to be expressed.

  3. I never know which way I'm going either. And my life path has been similar to yours. But I've learned to follow my intuition and it usually leads me where I need to go.

  4. Hi, Ladies. Thank you so much for your comments.

    Linda- It was a former president, and I'll tell you which one on Friday. I like your comment about getting the kids out of your hair. No empty nest angst for you, huh? Me, neither. It's refreshing to think about our own needs for a change.

    Karla- You're right. Blogging truly enables us to make connections with other people. Your poetry is lovely, and getting validation from other bloggers who relate to your words must be very satisfying.

    Karen- Good for you. That internal compass tops a simple map any day.

  5. I fell onto the road I took for a long time. I didn't want to be a restauranteur, but I liked it, it was a good living and I was good at it. My passion, however, was writing. And up until I moved to North Carolina, never really gave it what it deserved.

    But here I am, not in any way shape or form the way I imagined my middle age to be. I can't say I'm loving it, but it's my life. Soon, very soon, I feel a fork coming up in the road and I may just have to take it to see what happens.

  6. I have taken many turns on the path to being a writer, and I'm not "there" yet, in spite of having one published book to my name.

    And currently, I think my WIPs are taking awfully twisty paths to completion. One of them has wound itself around so many times, I'm not sure it's still the same story I started. But I'm chasing the tail of it now and when I get to the end I hope I can look back and see the whole path more clearly.

  7. I like how you started out by talking about the driving game you played with your husband, and took an introspective turn down life's path. I also have no sense of direction, but look to blogging as my compass. Julie

  8. I've always wanted to be a writer, but I encountered a lot of detours--none planned. I guess I've learned perseverance.

  9. I think I have had both. Lots of purposeful hard work and direction. Lot of unexpected detours. Ultimately I did best when I learned how to accept the latter.

  10. I enjoyed reading this! The sixties, you say. You must not be too much younger than I am(?).

    I always knew I wanted to be a writer. That was the road I was always on, but it twisted and turned in unexpected ways. But I still finally got to where I wanted to be: with a published book. Took an awfully long time. So, I guess as you say, you can get to the destination by more than one route. As the bloggers above say, you learn perseverance. You have lots of unexpected detours. (I don't have much sense of direction either. My friend says I can get lost in a paper sack. I'm SO grateful for the GPS!)

    Thanks for coming over on the 17th and congratulating me on my book launch. It was an exciting day, and then life does go on. And it seems like you're always waiting for something. I'm waiting for the free books to arrive, waiting for the eBook to launch, waiting for Amazon to get their act together...etc etc, sigh. So, it's the journey that you have to focus on.
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

  11. Hi, Anne- It takes a lot of guts to leave the safety of a successful side road to venture onto the unknown road toward your dream, but you did it. Be proud of yourself, and when you get to that fork, grab onto that puppy with both hands!

    Hi, Dianne. With one published book under your belt already, you're way ahead of the rest of us, but crud, you mean it doesn't get any easier after the first one??? Crap. Oh well, at least it's a labor of love, eh? Good point about how our stories sometimes take unexpected detours, too. Take care.

    Hi, Julie. Thanks. Nice comment about how blogging provides you with a compass.

    Hi, Connie. I have a feeling some of those detours made you a more compassionate person, as well as a very tough cookie.

    Hi, Florida. You're right. Fighting the unexpected detours rarely makes anyone happy.

  12. Hi, Ann. You're my inspiration. I'm still in my sixties, but sometimes wonder if I'm "too old" to see my book in print. Then I think of you. I remember that you persevered, and I remember that you succeeded. You may not have a good sense of direction, but I have a feeling you have a extremely strong internal compass, and that's much more important.

  13. My path's definately been one of cause and effect. It seems whenever I've attempted to set a direct course in life, things always pop up and send me on a detour. But it keeps things interesting.