Sitting in the car travelling east on the M61 to meet a friend that I have not seen for some time. Eager to honour my word – to arrive at 6pm – leave from parents home with a fifteen minute margin. Grateful to my brother for fantastic job he’s done on servicing/valeting the car – it sparkles, it drives well. Looking forward to spending time with friend – has been many years since we last talked openly and shared a meal together.
Signpost says there are long delays on M62 junctions 20 and 24 due to accident. Wondering “Does it impact me?” as it could on the western route or the eastern route. Hit the M62 traffic flows and then hits me that accident, that delay is on route and will impact me. Frustration, annoyance shows up – why me, why today? Temptation to stay on M62 is strong: have travelled this route many times and don’t know how else to get there! Nonetheless, turn off at the first exit before the blockage – part of me gets that is the wisest choice.
Driving along the slip road and a roundabout shows up. Many exits, which exit to take? Take one, find place to stop, get SatNav out, enter in destination, wait, route is calculated. Remaining 30 miles will take hour and half instead of 30 minutes – will be late. Annoyed. Make call to friend and leave message so she knows what is so and how it is likely to turn out. Put myself in the hands of the SatNav.
The road is dirt track, no other cars travelling on it, pot holes everywhere, drive slowly. “Am I on the right road? Is this a dead end? Has SatNav got it wrong?” Uncertainty and vulnerability is generating fearful thoughts. Plough in – trust that it will all work out, can be with whatever shows up. Soon driving on a proper road. Relief. All is well for 10 minutes or so then end up on built up areas of local town. So different from my world – town is dirty, poor, signs of neglect everywhere, was really something during Industrial Revolution and now looks like Detroit.
Frustration, annoyance and anger are all present: built up areas, 30mph speed limit, traffic lights everywhere, traffic, stop, start, not getting anywhere. “It’s not fair, why me, why trapped here in hell?” Towns, cities, built up areas don’t speak to me. Nonetheless an angel is present and speaks “Be with what is and what is not. Be patient. Accept world just as it is and just as it is not. That is freedom: being with what is and what is not is the access to authentic freedom!” Now relaxed, no hurry, simply taking in the scenery, listening to the music on the radio.
Suddenly, road leaves town centre behind and starts to wind and climb up. One bend after another, climbing, car struggles, change down a gear. Arrive at top of big hill, look down and this thought shows up “Wow, how beautiful!” Countryside everywhere: rolling hills, country road, no traffic, clear roads, now travelling at 50mph. “”Wow, how beautiful to be so high up, here in God’s country! What luck. If it had not been for the accident, the traffic jam, this world would never have been disclosed to me!”
Joy is present, wonder/awe is present, peace is present whilst driving on the ideal road for me – one that snakes around from side to side and up and down. Water! Lake? Reservoir? Stop car by side of road. Get out and just look – really look at the sunshine hitting the water and the wind caressing the water – water is rippling. How beautiful!
What fun, what joy, what beauty, how wonderful the experience of driving is. Have not traveled on this kind of road for a long time. Then another ‘lake/reservoir” shows up. “Wow. This is the body of water that has shown up many times on my travels on the M62. Each time wanting to get off M62 to take a closer look. This time, today, that closer look is taking place.
Travelling along the Pennines, time no longer matters, just joy of driving and being here right now. Suddenly it ends just as abruptly as it began – now travelling in the suburbs of a city. Joy and gratitude are still present. Drive slowly, calmly and fifteen minutes or so later the car sits on my friends drive.
What is the meaning of this story?
Life is simply more fun on the road less travelled. And the price is the willingness to be with fear, uncertainty, doubt, vulnerability, fear, frustration, annoyance, resentment and even anger. A glitch in the matrix of everyday life showed up in my life and awoke me from the slumber of the everyday. Having awoken, taking responsibility, handling fear, chose the road less traveled. And that made all the difference – an experience that will be with me always. An experience that shows me that the ‘unexpected’ can be gift, an access to see that which is hidden, to experience that which has not been experienced, to grow.
On the road less travelled it helps to have the right tools: what would have showed up, what would the experience be like if the SatNav had not been present to take care of working out the route?
Insights into self: self and built areas simply do not go together naturally/effortlessly; self, countryside, rolling hills, mountains, lakes, rivers, ocean go together perfectly. Home, for me, is the natural world, the natural landscapes. Leave towns, cities, shopping malls, built up areas to fellow human beings who find joy in them.
Isn’t the essence of possibility, leadership and transformation the willingness, the determination, the commitment to envision, communicate and travel the road less travelled? Sometimes one creates the opening and sometimes the opening shows up and one simply has to step into it.