Sunday, March 31, 2013

Journeys and Pit Stops

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tsu

I'm sure Lao Tsu was speaking metaphorically, but in my household a journey of any distance actually begins with everybody taking a turn in the restroom--or else.  I don't even have to say it any more.  The kids are trained; they just know....

It's funny how we stress out over our journeys, both physical and metaphorical, in life.  Take my example--what would happen if the kids didn't empty their bladders prior to getting into the car?  Well, they'd be begging me to pull over before it was "time" to pull over.  I'd have to stop for a restroom break even before I had to stop for more fuel.  I'd be pulling off of the highway for a stop completely unrelated to anything other than urination, most likely before I'd crossed the hundred mile point of the trip.

But then again, so what?  When I set off on a road trip of any distance, be it 200 or 1200 miles, I have a range of time rather than a specific point on the clock's rotational trajectory in mind for arrival.  I did road trips before there was a GPS, after all, and there's only so much distance-related specificity you can finagle out of blue and green lines on the pages of a road atlas.  I've since come to know and rely upon Bertha, the disembodied voice that tells me things like "in one quarter mile, turn right on exit twenty four."  She's much nicer than some of my previous co-pilots have been when I fail to follow that instruction, too, merely saying "recalculating..." instead of--um, well, yeah.  You married guys, you know what I mean, right?

As smart as Bertha is, though, I've learned not to trust that little readout at the bottom that tells me I'll arrive at my destination in, say, five hours and forty two minutes.  Uh huh.  I'll get there when I get there, and I bet I can make it in five and a half hours....

So back to the original issue, if I'm already planning to get there when I get there, what's the big deal about pulling over to let the kids pee one more time than I'd planned?  Was it really worth all the coaching I did in the beginning to get them trained?  Was it really worth stressing out like I did in my younger days--"Go to the bathroom, dangit!  What if we have to stop on the way, at *gasp* an unscheduled location?  It could throw my entire plan off.  I don't care if you don't feel like you have to go, you get in there and go now orrr elllsssse"

As I said earlier, life is full of metaphorical journeys, too.  We journey through our careers.  We journey through building an authorpreneurship.  We journey both physically and metaphorically through moves from one part of the country to another.  Physical journey or not, though, there's still the same issue--is avoiding a short pit stop along the way really worth stressing everybody out as you're taking off?


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