Life Is A Highway
Have you ever felt that your life is like travelling on a freeway, rushing madly at full speed from one place to another with no chance to slow down?
When I thought about what I wanted to share with you the words that came to mind were “Life is a highway.” Words made famous by Tom Cochrane in 1991 – “Life’s like a road that you travel on, When there’s one day here and the next one gone.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3sMjm9Eloo
I thought about how life stretches out before us when we are children and we begin our journey with our first few steps….and then we hit our first roadblocks. Chairs or tables are in the way of our progress and we negotiate our first detour. However, we don’t let anything stop us – we have a positive attitude. We are on an adventure to learn about life.
As we continue on our journey we find that some of our paths are straight and smooth, and it is easy to be positive. However many of our paths may come with potholes and speed bumps, perhaps things like failing a class or being bullied by older kids. This may cause us to become more cautious as we journey on and we begin to approach curves in the road with trepidation instead of anticipation, worrying about what is around the corner – will there be road construction or open road.
Bumps and Detours
Some of the various bumps and detours of my life include – starting school at 4 (the first year of kindergarten), skipping grade 4, being bullied in grade 8, moving at age 13 after my first year of high school to a small town from a big city, getting married at 18 and moving away to Ottawa, starting a new job, having my first child at 23, my second 2 years later, separating while pregnant with child #3, moving to a new home, getting back together, getting pregnant again, having child #4, starting another new job, separating for the final time when my son was 3, starting a new job, starting university at age 38, graduating from university 13 years later, starting a new job, kids all leaving home, and finally semi-retiring.
There were definitely places where I could say my life was “under construction” and times when I had to detour and even places where I took a wrong turn and had to backtrack. What got me through was an attitude of gratitude and a willingness to learn from my experiences.
Highways were designed as a means to get from one place to another easier and faster, and at times our lives may begin to resemble the actual highways as we rush from place to place, activity to activity, jockeying for position.
Looking for a Way Out
If you find yourself on this crowded thoroughfare going faster and faster, perhaps it is time to look for an exit. Perhaps it is time to get off the highway and take a drive on a back road where there is more nature than traffic, where life slows down to an easy pace.
If we are constantly hurrying and pushing everyone on the road we may arrive at our destination an absolute wreck with health problems such as high blood pressure and heart attacks or strokes. We miss so much as we jockey for positions, trying to be first in line that we fail to see the beauty of the world around us. We miss the rainbows and the sunrises and the sunsets and the blue sky. We just see people in front of us and we don’t really even “see” them as people, just as obstacles to get around. And really, does it matter if it takes us a few minutes longer to get where we are going?
People used to take Sunday drives as a way to relax and see what was going on, or to go to visit friends and relatives who lived close by. Cars didn’t go very fast or far at times. Now we travel so fast we don’t see anything and often when we reach our destination we wonder how we got there as our minds have been racing ahead to what we have to do. Have you ever felt like that?
We have become a nation of “doers” and not “be-ers”. We complain that we “don’t have time to see a friend, take on a project, write a speech, but the reality is, we do. We have 24 hours in every day. We simply need to make different choices. We can choose to make the time to visit a friend, to help out an organization or to write a speech. We can choose to have a poor attitude or an attitude of gratitude. One makes life more difficult, the other much easier.
My “attitude of gratitude” is what got me through a lot of my life’s roadblocks and periods of re-construction. Being thankful for big and little things like: my in-laws who supported me no matter what, who fed me and the kids, who did our laundry when my water was frozen; my parents who were always there for me and the kids and who I could always call on when I needed anything; my mom and my girlfriend taking my kids for 5 weeks so that I could go to Waterloo to take 3 courses one summer, being able to use a neighbour’s fax machine when I needed to fax my assignments in, kids going to bed without a fuss, a car that worked, a job to pay my bills, friends to visit and talk to, healthy kids, money to pay for my courses, determination and discipline to complete my assignments, people who believed in me, learning about computers, joining a computer club where I met Joe (my boyfriend since 2000), meeting new friends, being able to walk across the stage to accept my diploma with my whole family in attendance, joining Toastmasters.
I could go on and on and on about the many things I am grateful for and each day I try to add to my list – the blues of the sky, the shapes of the clouds, the different colours of the trees, the rain, the flowers, the grass, my house, my yard, ….
Life is a highway, full of potholes, speed bumps, traffic lights and miles of construction, but it is what you make of it and the attitude you bring makes it easy or hard. If you are currently experiencing one of life’s little detours, I encourage you to practice an attitude of gratitude. Slow down, take a look at the blessings in your life and see what you can gain from the experience.
P.S. Check out White Label Perks for some info on slowing down in their Fantastic Retirement package – but check it out soon – it ends Jan 24th.