You can’t get there from here.

Physical metaphors are powerful because they help us build a bridge from the tangible or “real” to the spiritual or intuitive. Sometimes I’ll be going about the daily tasks of life and have an epiphany right then and there…like I did driving around in Portland recently.

Portland is a sweet little city and it’s pretty easy to navigate once you learn the layout (quadrants!) and the major crossroads. I, however, have never been one to take the main throughways, because they feel slower to me since there is usually quite a bit more traffic than on the back roads. I like the movement and sense of freedom (read: no cars in front of me) taking the back roads allows even if the cost is going slower. (Are you already starting to see this as a metaphor for life?) So I keep trying new routes driving the city and because of Portland’s wonky layout, I inevitably end up at a dead end. In fact, I usually make many unexpected detours before reaching my final destination.

At first I was getting really frustrated about this—apologies to my sis who witnessed these freak outs a number of times. Then, the epiphany: You just can’t get there from here. It’s nothing to fret over, it’s just a fact. You can’t drive through the house at the end of the street, so you’d better turn and keep on moving.

This is life, too. If you want to meander, learn your own way, discover and explore instead of taking the known and fast route to “arrive” you’ll be making a lot of unexpected turns, romping around on new territory, and at times taking longer than your compadres on the highway.

You’ll also be learning more, seeing more and enjoying more beautiful scenery since you’re going slower. In either case you’ll likely experience frustration—on the main thoroughfare because of traffic and lack of expediency and on the back roads because you’ll be lost a lot. My frustration started to calm when I realized that obstacles are often just guidance to a new route. And this, for me, is one of the key differences between trying out an unknown route and sitting in traffic or whizzing by on the super highway, you’re always moving and usually at just the right pace to make choiceful decisions about where you’ll go next.

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