Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Life is a Highway Complete with Detours

on July 16, 2014

One of the things I’ve learned is to not fear detours. Most of the time, we see them as road markers – and usually the route is poorly marked and if you’re not paying extreme attention you end up somewhere north of Outer Mongolia. They happen at inopportune times – you’re tired; you have a deadline and you’re late; the kids have morphed into monsters; you and your spouse are already at each other’s throats – and then the “detour ahead” sign comes into focus – if you’re lucky because sometimes there’s no advance warning of the change ahead.

Thing about detours is that they’re generally off that well laid out, lined-on-all-sides-by-safety-rails route, and you’re in unfamiliar territory. You have to think, concentrate. You see new things – things you would have not ever seen from the highway. Sometimes they’re scary – we end up in uncomfortable or unsettling places (and these differ for each of us, so I’m not going into any detail here).

But the fact remains; you’re off your highway, in an unfamiliar area and (if you’re like most of us) you don’t have a map. As luck would have it, your car has a GPS to help you along – except that your little detour takes place in an area not presently covered by the GPS, so you’re on your own.

But if I think back on it, the detours have provided some of the more interesting and even highlights of my life. The fussing kids stop because – oooo we’re somewhere unexpected. Spouses set aside whatever’s eating at them to figure out the best way to go (cos you know those detour signs are not going to send you directly back to the highway – there’s always an intersection missing one and then you have to choose). Detours also make us slow down a bit – the roads are usually back roads and you just can’t push 80 on them.

Life’s a lot like that too. We get detours off our highway. Sometimes they bring us an abundance of funny memories – stories that get told over and over again and we never tire of them.

Sometimes we end up in awful places and it feels like we won’t leave intact. My divorce feels like one of those detours; one I never expected on my highway. It’s taken me through some terrible towns– fear, pain, desolation, despair, guilt, anger, resentment, rage, humiliation. My passengers are all reacting differently – “turn back”, “drive faster”, “please stop”, “don’t worry”, “‘m sick”, “we’ll make it”, “good job”, “need me to drive?”

Many times I wanted to cave to that last one and just let someone else drive my life for me. Maybe someone could do a better job. Maybe we’d all be safe. Maybe it wouldn’t all be on me if something else happened. Thing is, I don’t do a very good job of handing over control to others and especially not when I have so much at stake. It’s hard to keep a steady grip through turmoil. It’s hard to tune out the noise and keep yourself aware of what’s going on around you. But, a lot of deep breaths later, I see signs that the detour is nearly over. Soon I’ll be back on the highway. Until the next detour.


5 responses to “Life is a Highway Complete with Detours

  1. Mrs. C says:

    I hate detours. I hate not knowing what is coming and when. It gets really frightening if you let your mind linger on the “what if’s”. We just have to have faith that we will have sufficient grace when the time comes. You do gain a certain strength and wisdom when you have detours though and that certainly helps in future ones. God Bless!

    Mrs. C

    • Maeve says:

      I think it also helps to remember that if you keep calm and steady you do get back on the road and sometimes – sometimes – those detours have actually taken us around something truly awful and we just don’t realize it until it’s in retrospect. Hindsight being the gift of 20/20 vision and all!

  2. FuzzieWuzzie says:

    Here’s a bear taking a detour.

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