Obstacle or Detour?

One of my creative detours: It started as a “mess up” and turned into this.

Yesterday I went for a walk with one of my friends that I haven’t had a chance to catch up with in a while. As I was telling her about my latest ups and downs she said, “you’ve got to remember that sometimes what seems like an obstacle is really just a detour – you may not understand it at the time, but it’s taking you a better way. You just have to keep going.” (ok, that may not be what she said verbatim, but that’s basically how it registered for me.) It was a great reminder and the timing was perfect. It helped me shift from discouragement to possibility. I started asking myself: “Is this an obstacle or detour?” Suddenly I was looking for the ways that everything had worked out. I think we all have moments when something unexpected happens that seems like a problem, but it all turns out great in the end. I love it when I can spot these in my life.

I actually had one of these moments while driving my brother to the airport on Saturday. We were running late, and I felt responsible for getting everyone there on time. My daughter was in the car helping me navigate, but there was a miscommunication and I missed my exit. Uh oh! I was instantly stressed out.

We were cutting it close and now I had no idea how to get there. My brother and his wife seemed perfectly calm which I very much appreciated, but I was battling anxiety. Even when we found an alternate route I was still unable to relax. I could feel myself getting jittery with adrenaline, and my brain wanted to start running all the “what if” scenarios, but I just kept driving. Finally we were there. They ended up having plenty of time and made their plane no problem.

I was relieved, but I have to admit that I was beating myself up a little for having missed the exit in the first place. Was this an obstacle or detour? We decided to drive home on the more direct interstate route, and as I pulled onto the highway we looked over to the northbound lane and saw miles of stand-still traffic. It dawned on me then that I literally had been been given a detour – a better way. We got to the airport much quicker because we missed the exit. I said a little thank you prayer and immediately dispensed with my internal brow beating. I also realized that I could have skipped the anxiety and bad feelings all together. I thought of this story when my friend spoke to me about detours, and I realized that I was in a struggle with myself. Sometimes the universe is trying to hand me a gift and I don’t see it.

Later, I kept thinking about the book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. I’ve read it several times over the years but not recently. As I was going to bed last night I found my copy and immediately saw: “When you want something, the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” I believe this, but I also forget sometimes. So I’m grateful for the reminder to look for the ways that the universe is helping me. I’m able to re-frame my perspective and choose to be an adventurer looking for treasure instead of a victim. There is gold to be found just about anywhere. Sometimes is shows up in a harried trip to the airport. a warm chat with a dear friend. or a beloved book. Have fun on your own treasure hunt today.

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