On a recent trip from Houston to Austin, I completely missed the turn onto Hwy 71 from I-10. Didn't even see it. It was an exceptionally beautiful day, it had been a longer-than-usual drive with heavy congestion due to a serious accident along the way, and I was thoroughly enjoying a well-told story on a podcast. By the time I realized that I was enjoying lots of unfamiliar views, I was far enough from my previous route that choosing a new one promised the fastest return home. So, I wound my way along a few previously untraveled roads, toured a few towns I'd never seen, watched the sunlight dance on open fields, had a country convenience store interaction that reminded me how much I love the city, enjoyed the smooth spaciousness of a nearly unoccupied tollway, and missed rush hour traffic completely.
The detour got me home safely, if not sooner, and gave me new ideas, some understanding, a few laughs and lots of beauty in exchange for a little extra time on the road. When I arrived home, happy and peaceful, I was pleased I'd missed my exit. It was a decidedly different trip than my original plan would have provided, and the pleasure and experience I received far outweighed any loss of time. I started musing about the difference between detours and distractions.
It's not unusual for me to be thinking about distraction these days. As distractions proliferate almost daily, the ability to consciously navigate one's path - through the world, the day, the hour, the moment - becomes an increasingly relevant skill. Changes in our culture, social connectivity, and technology are highlighting the need to constantly choose where our attention will go. Because if we're not choosing, the focus is constantly being chosen for us.
How many moments of your yesterday were lost to video streams, photo threads, articles, arguments, or the contemplation of topics that didn't truly engage or enhance your mind or improve your life experience? How many such moments directly stole productive time and energy from the work or contemplation that you actually wanted to engage in? For many of us these days, the answer is "more than I care to admit."
An experience of being distracted often carries with it negative feeling - a sense of loss or disappointment at not meeting our goals, not holding to our standards. Distractions nearly always leave us frustrated, less energized, and regretful of the time and energy we gave to them, however unwittingly. A detour, in contrast, often brings a gift: creative inspiration, new waves of life-giving energy, a feeling of gratitude and appreciation, a sense of being or having more than before. A detour often feels like a vital part of the plan we just didn't know about when we embarked. Here's wishing you a month full of what you deem worthy, with room for the occasional delightful detour.
Dana Wyss Healing Arts
Breathe deeply, practice often, be well.