Taking a Wrong Turn, or Maybe Not

My kids went on a long bike and hike trek this weekend. Their object was to visit four different temples along the way. In the morning, they walked 12 miles and visited two temples. In the afternoon, they were supposed to bike 18 miles between two more temples.

My husband and I went along to support the kids on the afternoon bike trek by providing rides, water, and snacks.  We chose a park about half-way along the bike trail. Then we waited and waited and waited. It was a beautiful area, and I had fun walking along the trail (pictured above.)

Finally, a couple of the bikers arrived at our pit stop. One of the kids was surprised that a larger group of bikers, including our two boys, hadn't passed yet. We decided they must have taken a wrong turn. We waited another hour or so before they showed up. That's when we learned that they had taken not one but several wrong turns. And, unbelievably, it wasn't all my sons' faults. (One of them is pretty famous for going off the trail.)

Anyway, thanks to leaders getting them back on track, most of them managed to complete the 18 mile trek, which ended up being much more than 18 miles. I'm so proud of them for keeping at it.

The story made for a great analogy, and we ended up talking about other wrong turns we might make in life. The boys agreed that it's smart to turn around as fast as you can once you realize you've made a bad decision and get back on the path to your goal.

Afterward, though, I started thinking about all the times I thought I had gone off on the wrong path, and I decided maybe it's not always obvious when you're on the wrong path. For example, back in graduate school, when I applied for the creative writing program and got rejected, I wished I had never gotten myself on the path to creative writing. I thought I had taken a wrong turn, but I was so far into the program that it was too late to turn back. I reapplied, got accepted, and wrote my first novel as my thesis. Now, after publishing three other novels, I'm so glad I persisted with my "wrong turn." (Cue Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" here.)

A wrong turn can sometimes give you added wisdom and compassion. Or, in my case, it can provide material for an angst-filled chapter in a book. (The more I write, the more I realize that no experience is wasted.) Other times, a right turn for me may be a wrong turn for someone else. Life can get complicated that way.

Another issue I have is that when my path becomes difficult, I start to assume that I've taken a wrong turn. This, though, is something that happens no matter what path you take. There are uphill stretches and downhill stretches. Right now, I'm on an uphill stretch in life. I keep having to remind myself of my ultimate goals. Sometimes it helps to take the long view--all the way to the end of the path--instead of just to the to the big hill in front of me. Big hills have a way of providing the most beautiful vistas.

How about you? Have you ever taken a wrong turn that turned out to be a right turn?


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