Friday, June 05, 2015

Forward Visibility

You can't always see round corners...
This week we've been on a family holiday in Cornwall, which has been a refreshing break for all of us. A characteristic of Cornish roads is that many of them are narrow, winding and have high hedges either side. 

This makes it much harder to see what's coming around the corner, and therefore a more cautious driving approach is needed when travelling on these country lanes. It also means that a "Cornish mile" takes longer to travel than a regular mile, therefore journey times and expectations need to be adjusted accordingly!

Relying on an out of date sat-nav can also lead to mishap, especially when combined with Cornish lanes. We very nearly had a mishap when directed down a turning which swiftly deteriorated into a muddy, potholed, overgrown track - slightly stressful to be honest as we bounced slowly along from pothole to pothole, nervous for our car's suspension! While I gripped the steering wheel tighter and held my breath, my daughter piped up from the back seats saying how much she was enjoying the adventure! I must confess I didn't quite see it the same way until afterwards when, after a mile of "adventure" we rejoined a more navigable road.
"...a "Cornish mile" takes longer to travel than a regular mile.."
Driving in Cornwall has reminded me yet again of the importance of being journey-focused and not merely destination focused. So often we head for the nearest motorway - the wide, fast road - to get to our endpoint as efficiently as we can. And not just when we're in our cars, but metaphorically in our careers, relationships and personal goals as well. I wonder if we have a bias towards the wide and fast routes in our life journeys? Admittedly it can be easier to see what's coming, but our trips become more linear, more functional and potentially less fulfilling.

Of course, in life we can rarely see what's coming our way round the next corner, and more often it's like we're travelling on Cornish country lanes rather than motorways. If you're like me, it's easy to have a "fast road" attitude when travelling on slow routes, leading to frustration and road rage if I'm honest! I'm not saying that fast is bad, just that for this particular life-journey metaphor you need to balance your speed with the visibility ahead. If you're on a proverbial Cornish road then the best thing to do is adjust your speed, enjoy the scenery and allow for extra travel time - otherwise you'll get frustrated.
"Of course, in life we can rarely see what's coming our way round the next corner"
There are two things not to do on a meandering narrow road. Firstly don't drive too fast because you never know when a juggernaut will come flying around the next bend. But secondly, don't drive too slowly - yes slow down for really sharp bends - but in general drive the road at a reasonable pace. Otherwise you'll take far too long to get anywhere and you're likely to hold other people up behind you. The knack is to drive confidently and decisively without driving dangerously. One other lesson that's helpful is about following the tail lights of someone more familiar with the route, let alone reading the signposts - a topic for a whole other post!
"It's not realistic to be able to see the whole road ahead of us"
It's not realistic to be able to see the whole road ahead of us. There are too many twists and turns, ups and downs for that, especially when we're looking to a distant destination. In my own life I've too often been risk-averse in the face of this, driving too slowly and not getting anywhere as a result. This is just as frustrating as trying to find shortcuts and save time - applying a "fast road" attitude to our lives.

So don't worry about not being able to see around the next corner, and don't fret about your journey time - keep on confidently going, and remember that Cornish miles are longer than regular miles! And if you find yourself crawling down a potholed track, take my daughter's advice and realise that it's all part of the adventure!

Wherever you find yourself, these words from the book of Jeremiah are something I find helpful - especially because they were spoken when God's people were in exile. Even when we're in a foreign country, even when life is taking a scenic route: "I know the plans I have for you... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future" (Jer 29:11).

No matter what twists and turns you've faced, there's always hope around the corner. 


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1 comment:

Al Ferguson said...

An important message. Thank you for sharing it on #bigfatlinky. I hope you had a wonderful holiday.