“The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.”
― Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel
Life is what happens while you’re making plans
Friday morning started out ordinarily enough- leaving Kathmandu for a whirlwind roadtrip: 3 travellers, 4 destinations, 17 difference agenda items and 36 hours. The plan was that we would see all these places and use the time in the car and the evening to ideate and talk- something we can’t seem to get the time to do when we are in Kathmandu.
7.45am, En route to Bandipur
A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving― Lao Tzu
Making good time, we expect to arrive by lunch. A minister’s car overtakes us just as we near Galchi and next thing we know, the road is closed. We’re told the local community was protesting about the road condition and would not let the minister pass through until a solution had been found for their plight.
Estimated delay: 4-5 hours.
We decide to change plans, turn around, and go to Nuwakot instead.
1.20pm, Arrival in Nuwakot
All journeys have destinations of which the traveller is unaware- Martin Buber
The long winding detour meant rough roads and some glorious scenery- from the hills to the riverbeds and back up, a taste of the beauty of Nepal.
Not only did we arrive in Nuwakot in time for a leisurely lunch, we also realized, our original plan to reach Nuwakot at night was a terrible one! The road is under repair so between the boulders, sharp drops and winding roads, that would have been a difficult journey in the dark!
LESSONS FROM THE ROAD
I’ve often thought the road and journeys make for wonderful metaphors for life and living. We start out somewhere, we have an idea of where we want to go and then life has its way of showing who’s boss- flight cancellations, road blocks, scenic routes and surprise endings all upend our plans and add unpredictability and drama.
All the detours and out-of-our-control variables of this roadtrip (road closures due to repairs, accident and public protest- 3 different times in a 24 hour journey!) made me think of all the clients and friends who have come to me with questions just like the ones we were asking:
What should we do now? Will this be better or that? Now what?
These are the questions we ask when we come up against circumstances that force us to recalibrate, think on our feet, and change direction.
And underneath all this, the question- why can’t things just go my way for a change?
THE WISDOM OF DETOURS
I knew everything happened for a reason. I just wished the reason would hurry up and make itself known ― Christina Lauren
We are creatures of habit- seeking safety in stability, confirmed assumptions and familiar routes. Most of us avoid detours like the plague- we fight things we didn’t plan for.
But the mythologists would say this
– the detour, the departure from the expected, the arrival of the unwelcome-
is precisely where the story begins.
The solution you’re looking for, the way out of the place where you are stuck, the new idea, the breakthrough- those things are not on the well trodden, familiar paths you are already on; those things are not on the path where your plans and expectations can take you.
Besides, there really is no way to avoid these detours. Apparently the universe didn’t get the human memo about always letting things go our way. It’s constantly surprising us with unplanned visits, inconvenient life changes and unexpected new opportunities. Every life will involve unknown variables, great chasms that have to be crossed, a time in the abyss, moments of surprise and darkness.
By upsetting the status quo and forcing you to recalibrate, detours can open new doors- they can shine a light on possibilities you might not have considered and potentials in yourself you might not have seen.
When things don’t go your way, consider it a sign to slow down and pay attention. There are often lessons, solutions and better options hidden in the inconveniences. If you will go through them with your eyes, ears and heart open they might be doorways to renewal.
ATTEMPT #2 TO BANDIPUR
In case you were wondering, we did get to Bandipur) later that evening- and Gorkha the next day, and despite 90 minutes spent waiting in a road closure on the way back to Kathmandu, we made it home in time for dinner!