ON MY MIND: Bam, whap, jerk

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

Have you ever driven over a speed bump when you hadn’t realized it was there?

Bam! It startles you. It whaps you. It jerks you around.

And yet you drive on, perhaps a bit more cautiously, perhaps with new focus. It’s not the end of the road.

Have you ever been in a hurry to get some place? Of course, you wouldn’t speed. None of us would ever do that, would we? But there you are, giving it all you’ve got to get where you want to get to as fast as you can get there. And then, oh, say it ain’t so — you see a sign that says “detour ahead.”

Detour — aka delay. Detour — not what you had planned on. Detour — “ain’t nobody got time for that.”

But you take the detour. What else can you do? Your options are limited.

Sometimes the detours are quick. Sometimes they go on and on and take you way out of your way. This, of course, adds time to the journey.

Speed bumps and detours aren’t just on highways and byways. They are also on that big grand road of life.

There is a cute joke about — if you want to hear God laugh, tell him/her about your plans.

Speed bumps get us to slow down and pay attention. Detours show us new paths and new ways to go.

I began college thinking that I would graduate in four to five years. I graduated 17 years later. Sometimes during that ride I wasn’t even on the map or even in the vehicle that would get me there.

I had plans for how my life would go, lots of plans. My life went its own way. I would never have imagined where it would go. It has been like that Dr. Seuss book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” And for most of us, our lives have been full of routes and stops, bumps and detours that we hadn’t ever planned on in the beginning.

At 18, I planned to be a hair dresser. A detour came up and I ended up in college studying elementary education. After eight years of teaching, other detours came up and offered new directions and careers. I’m not alone. Most people change careers and plans several times in their lives. Detours happen. New paths are forged.

If we choose a partner or not, if we have children or not, where we choose to live, and on and on. Every choice adds color and variance to our map of life.

They say that if you want to know where you’ll be in five years, look at the people you hang out with. Sometimes they are the speed bumps and detours put in our way. These can be both positive and negative forces.

Speed bumps and detours are not necessarily negative, though they can be. They can also be extremely positive and exciting. Many of the bumps and new directions I have experienced have put me in wonderful situations.

This all reminds me of my old favorite quote which has gotten me through so many challenging times in my life. When God closes a door, he always opens a window.

Through all the plans, bumps, detours and closed doors, we grow and that is such a gift in our lives. Growth is a big part of the magic we experience in living a full life.

So, when someone tells you to hold on for the ride of your life, believe them. Be open to change, expected and unexpected. Be prepared to bump. Be prepared to face new ways to do things and get places. Hold on tight. Bam. Whap. Jerk. Detour ahead.

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

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