At long last, the air breathed its first taste of spring: the pavement was dry, and the road ahead beckoned. I settled in for the two-hour drive to my aunt’s house, favourite tunes bopping me along. With the cruise set to the speed limit, I drove in the “slow” lane and enjoyed the scenery.
Early in the trip, I noticed a black Jeep on my tail – way too close for comfort at 110 clicks per hour. I fretted about his closeness, nervous about having to brake suddenly with him riding my bumper. Regardless of any of my maneuvers to speed up or slow down, he wouldn’t pass me, and I couldn’t shake him.
His persistent nearness caused me to wonder why some people feel compelled to follow another’s path so closely rather than choose their own path.
When we are very young, there are certainly some good reasons for staying close to those who have things figured out more than we do – safety being one of them. As we get older, attempting to bask in other people’s limelight is often done in the hope that some of that fame or fortune might just rub off. Perhaps we stay closer to those with more courage than we have at the time so that we can borrow some of theirs.
Regardless of our reasons for running with the pack, there comes a point when it’s important to veer away and choose “the road less traveled”. Why? Because each of us is unique; we have something to offer that no one else on the planet can. If we fail to deliver that uniqueness or that specialness to those around us, everyone is diminished.
As my brothers did, I chose an oil patch company for my first job. I was 18. Had I stayed there – like so many others – for a minimum of 25 years, my future would have been secure with great savings and a pension plan to set me up for the rest of my life. However, somehow I knew that I didn’t fit; I hoped that I was destined for something beyond hours of mind-numbing work and the pressure to conform. That first step, which was way out of my comfort zone at age 22, had me traveling on roads that were not on any of the maps that I was used to. It was on those roads that I discovered that I had a talent for selling, a talent for writing, and a talent for communicating at the front of the room.
Despite the occasional detour to the safety of the familiar, I kept exploring, learning, and growing. Eventually, I grew enough to be able to share my own ideas, my uniqueness, and thoughts about the journey that I was on. Sometimes huge potholes or oversized speed bumps slowed me down or stopped me in my tracks until I found a way around. There were plenty of times when I rode other people’s bumpers for a while and likely came across as a space invader as I sought to learn from their experiences.
My family still worries about the road that I’m on, sometimes asking, “Are you making any money at that, yet?” I confess that I haven’t given up on my quest for “fame and fortune”, but I know that it has to be on my terms – as the reward for reaching the destinations of my own journey.
In the intersections of life, what less-traveled road entices you, as nervous as it may make you feel?
If riding my bumper for a while helps you to make that turn off your usual path, then feel free. Now is the time, my friend – delightful adventures await you!