Last week we began a series of essays on interesting places where I have been privileged to perform. Fret not, my friends, this series will continue in due time. But for now, let us leave the pre-proscribed path and strike out on a merry (if brief) detour into the trees.
I just returned this evening from a last second work trip up to Northern California. Every so often, when a presenter with CWE is unable to work, schedules are shuffled round so that we can cover all bases with the staff that we have. This week’s shuffle demanded that I fly up to Oakland International Airport, rent a car, crash at a hotel, cover the necessary programs the next day, then fly back, all in the space of 24 hours. I was informed of this exciting development as soon as I checked my phone after yesterday’s presentation. My flight was already booked. Take off was in four hours.
For some, this unforeseen fork in the road would signal a magnificent gift from the famously fickle Fates. Here I was, on a Thursday, almost, but not quite, to the weekend, awash in the drably expected tides of the regular and routine, and here was ADVENTURE calling. Here was a chance to do something different, to strike out into the wild yellow yonder.
But to me, it just seemed stressful. In all honesty, that was my first reaction.
Which I do regret.
I am not by nature adventurous. I prepare. I anticipate. I take carefully calculated risks. And though my life has included many trips and much travel, it is not something I do for its own sake. And I do not always react positively to surprise. Travel can be fun, but it can also be tiring – and risky. Things go wrong. Planes are delayed. Left to my own devices, I am ashamed to say that I would probably be a creature of complete routine, blazing through life with my nose very much to the grindstone, meeting goals, but forgetting to smell most every rose along the way.
So tonight, as I type out this latest post, I find myself reflecting on the fact that life is not just a checklist. It is far more than simply a sequence of hoops through which we must jump. Life is the journey. I write these words – trite, but true – more for myself than for you. This is little more than a note to self, digitally penned after a quick and successful, if unforeseen and initially stressful flight to the North.
The trip went fine. To the surprise of no one, Northern California is beautiful. There are fates indescribably worse than driving it’s winding, if slightly confusing, roads through tunnels and green, green hills flecked with trees.
Life happens. It just does. And when an unforeseen fork in the road confronts you, ready or not, remember to take a breath and choose to see the adventure. Because it is a choice. Yes, Philip, I am talking to YOU.
And if anyone finds themselves staying at the Diablo Mountain Inn in Walnut Creek, take a walk down the road. Less than a half mile down you will find the Home of Chicken and Waffles, a soul food joint that is DELICIOUS. I recommend both the chicken and the waffles. And the grits.