Always run the short road, and the short road is the one that’s in accord with nature. Say and do everything, then, in the most sound way possible. With that kind of purpose, one is freed from fatigue, hesitation, ulterior motives, and affectation.Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 4.51
The quickest way to get from Point A to Point B is to take the direct route. No detours, no sight-seeing, no dilly-dallying. If this is the highway, then it is hammer down and go. If there is an obstacle in the way, then it is best to go through it or go around with the hopes of getting back on as soon as possible.
Our lives are best lived going directly from A to B. Unfortunately, it rarely happens that way.
On the highway, we see the signs. Here for gas, another for food, and another for lodging. Though often necessary, these detours often add time to the journey. With traffic up ahead, we take the alternate route winding up and down smaller, slower roads broken up by the occasional traffic light.
As we journey through life, we see the same issues. Straight ahead down the planned path is ideal, but we are met with detours, distractions, and unexpected delays forcing us away from the road we desire to travel.
Take our health for example. Imagine if from a young age, we ate only healthy foods, stayed active, and got the proper amount of sleep every night. What would our bodies look like? It is an ideal path for optimum health, yet one that may no longer even be possible in our modern world. Instead, we eat only for pleasure and convenience, indulging in destructive food and drinks that come from a laboratory rather than nature. And if you are anything like me, you spend the remainder of your days trying to get back on the path you should have been on from the beginning.
Our health is only one part of the journey. How many other detours have we taken that have set us back socially, professionally, and financially? How many times have we been detoured by bad advisors and friends, distracted by costly vices, or fell victim to our own inability to maintain pressure on life’s accelerator.
We stopped to smell the roses and found ourselves tangled in the thorns.
Every time we have left the path, we have gotten farther away from our intended destination. We have made our travels more difficult. Sometimes, we have even stopped along the way and never resumed the journey.
Unless we have lived the perfect life, we have all been down the wrong road a time or two. Personally, I have been down so many wrong roads, I have often been unable to find my way back. Wrong choices that cost me years away from my journey, that forced me to completely redesign my route.
What can be done?
The farther away from the path increases our stress, makes us more tired, and deteriorates our confidence. What should have been the highway has become the untraveled dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Though it is not the ideal place to be, all is not lost. The destination has not moved, only our locations in relationship to it.
From your current location in life:
This new route may no longer be the highway, but the roads will improve the closer we get back to it.
I learned this at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.Henry David Thoreau
To get where we want to go, we must keep going. A journey of a lifetime cannot be completed in one day. The way is long, so we must travel a little bit of it every day. One foot in front of the other, one mile then the next. Win the day and keep stacking victories one upon the other. In time, we will be amazed at just how far we have come.