Life is Like a GPS

…you never know where you’ll end up!

I was driving home from the cottage just over a week ago when Madge (my GPS) got confused and took me on an unexpected detour, adding another 1.5 hours to my 4 hour drive. I took the highway through Bancroft a bit further than necessary so that I could stop for gas and a coffee, and when I started heading in the opposite direction again, I ended up on a road marked the “Scenic Route” which was comprised of 35 km of unpaved gravel. (Ok, I confess: I should have recalled the route from my drive to the cottage, but I chose to rely fully on the GPS instead). When I finally got back on the correct route, I had been driving for a full 90 minutes. I turned onto the highway that would take me home, and what did I see but a sign telling me that Bancroft is a mere 40km down the road.

It happened again yesterday when I was supposed to have lunch with some friends visiting from Winnipeg. Since I’m not completely familiar with this new city, I relied on Madge to get me to the restaurant. She took me to a construction zone which turned into a closed road. After I got back on the highway, Madge told me to go east and then make a U-turn and go west. On and on it went. Those directions were far too ridiculous for me to follow. I got so fed up with her that I created my own route and eventually found my destination. I was an hour late.

I spent the entire past year driving across Canada as part of my job with a touring ministry, and during that time I thought a lot about the analogy between life and a GPS.

You think you’re headed in one direction. You’re on a steady path toward your destination, but then the GPS starts wailing, “Recalculating, recalculating!” and before you know it, you’re rerouted to an entirely different road.

This could result in one of two things:

A)    The destination remains the same. You’re merely “Taking the Long Way Around” like the Dixie Chicks sing. I used to think of this as my theme song for life. I reveled in my “stop and smell the roses” way of doing things. But more recently I’m just sick of the long way and I’d rather get there pronto. No gravel, no bumps, no “road closed” signs. Just get me there. Fast.

B)     The different road leads to a different destination. You’ve set out on one distinct path, but the GPS takes you through hard things like construction zones and missed exits. You can spend precious time searching for an unnamed road and never find what you are looking for. On the other hand, the GPS becomes a thing of beauty, taking you along the scenic route, along a path you’ve never been, causing to you consider options you never dreamed of.

I was struck by my impatience when I was driving home from the cottage. I knew that I had no where to be that evening. I knew that I wasn’t in a rush, and that instead of getting angry at my 90km detour I could laugh about it. But I didn’t. Because even though I had all the time in the world to get home, enjoying it would have been pointless, futile, a waste of time.

Sometimes I feel like I’m navigating through a construction zone; avoiding pot holes while trying to maintain and smooth and steady ride, all the while hoping this route will lead me where I want to go. I know that eventually the construction will clear and this slow-moving lane will speed up, and when it does I’ll probably be wishing for some reprieve again.

A few months ago I noticed that my path was being rerouted once again, and even though this isn’t the destination I envisioned for myself a few years back, it’s definitely the one that I want today. So I’m going to choose to embrace the ride and enjoy all of those unplanned detours of life. Because maybe I’ll discover that they weren’t detours at all, but the path that I was meant to travel.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
T.S. Eliot


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