Monday, October 1, 2012

Detour Moment

I have a 45 minute commute home after I leave my fantastic job. I'm a wind-up/wind-down kind of girl, so the drive has never bothered me.  The quiet time in the car to prep my mind for the day, and then at the end of it, to calm my mind before changing gears to be mom and wife has been welcome and pleasant. I don't feel anxious when I drive and even when I take the same roads I find something new every day to take notice of. 

I was tired and slightly worn today. I wasn't in a hurry to get home, but I felt fatigued by the second half of my drive.  The road seemed eerily clear in a place where congestion is standard.  I take rural, two lane highways, and I'm not an aggressive passer, so usually I just accept that the speed limit is unattainable.  Today I was cruising along and felt that my time to travel home was coming to a close.  Out of nowhere, the traffic in front of me came to a screeching halt.  Though it was several miles before it was revealed, there was a horrendous accident ahead, with no casualties, as I was told by the civilian gentleman helping to direct traffic.  When I felt the relief of knowing that no one was seriously injured, I went about my way.  Unfortunately, I am new to the area and had no idea how to go about my way...

Yes, I was hungry and felt the weight of the day, but I don't usually feel inconvenienced by a detour.  At first my little inner voice said, "Damn, my family is waiting for me" but then I realized that it was not me in the accident ahead of me, and what was the big deal about a few extra miles anyway?  Well... it ended up being a bit more than a few miles.  I have a great sense of direction, not to mention that I live in the Front Range of Northern Colorado, so I know all I need to know is that the mountains are west, but I had no control over where the roads just... stopped.  I took a few more turns than I probably needed to, but just as I was beginning to feel a little agitation I turned down the most beautiful country road. I wound through green fields (in a drought that is a rare sighting) and pastures with horses literally galloping through it together. I felt like I was in a movie, or at least a car commercial. The sun was setting over the mountains, which I was facing, because I knew I needed to go west, and the silhouette of the range was breathtaking.  Every few hundred feet, another beautifully manicured, but rustic homestead would surface in my peripheral vision.  It was surreal.

I would never have seen that road if I hadn't had to turn around and veer off my course.  I know that this reference is cliche, but I really did need this moment to realize something very true about and very signature to my personality.  I turn detours into adventures.  I am happier when I can see a fork in the path as a quest, not a set back. Once I was captivated by the newness of the picturesque scenery, I didn't feel the pressure to get directly to my destination.  That calm allows for better judgment calls and a lesson in what it feels like to employ patience.

Evie's a pro, Grandma's discouraged
I was never the child who asked if we were "there yet" and as an adult, I feel that it's counter-intuitive to the course of life to try to get to the end without appreciating the drive.  Again, cliche, but it's truly amazing how often we do that.  My affection for detours and journeys translates into a multitude of other moments.  A couple of weeks ago, we had been asked to join a couple that we hadn't been out with before to go gold panning in the mountains.  We are always up for a new experience, so we went willingly, hauling gear and armed with food and cameras.  The site was gorgeous. We had a shallow embankment on the side of a river in Golden, Colorado.  It was not a remote area, but we had the shore to ourselves and set up a little home base for our gold panning excursion.  We rolled up our pant legs, collected our tools and waded into the icy water.  The temperature was warm that day, with a light breeze and the sun shining off of the water. I was captivated by the scene.  The couple we were with did a tutorial on the technique of gold panning and gave us tips for methodology.  It was awkward at first, but we got the hang of the the movement and eventually the anticipation of finding a flake of gold was all encompassing.  Even Evie was getting into it, and was a natural at finding the elusive black sand where the gold hung out.

We spent several hours in the water, sitting on the boulders and sifting through river sand. Our companions began to get discouraged and impatient with the lack of gold findings, but all I could think was,"This moment is so unique and memorable."  I loved the process. I had absolutely no expectations. I loved the excitement my children felt at doing something brand new and unusual. I just smiled every time a disparaging comment was made, reminded my family that it was about the experience and didn't allow myself to be influenced to get to the end.

It's hard not to feel happy here.

I find that when I go against my instinct to enjoy the ride I am not as happy, and I don't appreciate the destination as much. Our experiences help shape who we are and I believe that every detour is a moment of design.  I've read that people who spend their money on experiences rather than things are happier overall.  I believe that. I try to document as many new big moments, but the small moments of detour through the country are just as important.  I want to always be able to look out the window and see the journey, and not just ask if we're there yet.

Moment of design captured...

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