Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
“Sometimes even the wrong train can take you to
the right destination”. ~ Paulo Coelho
Those of us who have put a few miles on life’s roads know things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes the Universe hits you with a wrong turn or an expected detour. It’s difficult to accept, especially when we have already planned the outcome and suddenly find ourselves in an unexpected and completely different place.
Detours and Mistakes
A detour upsets us. We lean towards calling it a mistake; a misfortune that belongs to someone else. It’s a place we don’t want to be; forcing us out of our comfort zone and challenging us to reassess our direction as well as our destination. Unplanned deviations tap into the fear and anxiety living in all of us, but they also tap into our ability to find opportunity, even when it looks like an obstacle. You might find yourself on the wrong train but it can still take you to the right destination; just not the one you (or the Universe) had in mind.
As I have gotten older, I am less intimidated by detours. I have learned the hard lesson of investing a great deal of time and energy in something only to end up where I started. Staying on the train would have made sense if I’d been less rigid and more willing to embrace personal growth and expanded expectations.
Fear and anxiety focus on our weaknesses and convince us of what we cannot do. Finding yourself in an unplanned situation doesn’t always mean a negative outcome. If we allow ourselves to look we often find the courage we need, and in so doing, find a way forward that brings us peace.
Not Everything Makes Sense
Detours happen to all of us because no one gets the guarantee that what you planned is actually going to happen. Life doesn’t work that way. In fact, it’s pretty common to have detours—really just another word for unexpected change—thrown at us on a regular basis. Some are big, some small enough to seem insignificant, and some of them just plain suck. They often arrive as lessons that can be learned no other way.
We don’t always get to choose the detour, but we can choose our attitude while we are on it and embrace the teaching it brings. When we see the positive—the good that’s out there in spite of the twists and turns that brought us to this place—detours shape a perspective that is different than the one we had when our journey began.
It’s hard to make sense of an indirect route when we are stuck trying to navigate it. When we get through it, we gain an understanding of what brought us to our destination (even if it’s a temporary one) and the learning changes us.
When I view detours I’ve taken with an open heart and a positive filter, I can see it was the only way I could get to my destination.
Wrong Trains Happen to Good People
Big detours are the losses of a job, a loved one, health issues, even a move. They are the things that turn life upside down, making us feel like we are on the wrong train in circumstances we did not get to choose. When you find yourself there, it still has to be dealt with, even if the only action you take is to get off at the next stop.
These are not stress-free changes; they rip the fabric of our lives and shatter our dreams. We don’t deserve them, we didn’t ask for them and we are crushed under their weight. We can ask ourselves why, but it’s a rhetorical question as there is no answer that makes things emotionally right.
The train I have been riding for the past month is not one I would have chosen to ride alone, but the truth is, it is meant for me. When it pulled into the station I got on. This journey is a major detour around the rhythm and comfort of my family and work life as I become the primary care giver for my Dad. I know the destination, but have no idea how long the ride will be.
The scenery is different, I am not I control, and there are days when I want to simply stop the train, get off and return to an easier time. But that is not who I am and in my heart I know I am going in the right direction, even if I don’t like the train.
Riding the Train
A detour is many things. It’s unexpected and annoying, even life changing, but it can also be beautiful. It usually arrives with very little warning or time to prepare, like suddenly seeing a road closed or one way sign that says “you can’t go this way.” Navigation skills become a harsh reality when you realize you are unable to go in the direction you planned and must find an alternative. But what if the wrong train is the only option that can take us in the right direction?
It happens to all of us. We are in control and suddenly we are not, headed down a new track that reveals a part of us we didn’t know was there. It’s a chance to look inside yourself and see what you are made of. A detour can be Mother Nature’s way of presenting a different path in life.
I have learned to think of detours as a gift. What we do with them is up to us: make a change, grow yourself spiritually, find closure, let go of heavy baggage, discover new joys. It’s a chance to explore options you didn’t know you had.
It can also be an invitation to slow down and contemplate the ride, giving ourselves permission to do nothing except watch the scenery. A gift, with no strings attached. Maybe there are no wrong trains.