It is incredible how much you miss when you stick to the beaten path. — Gaur Gopal Das, Life’s Amazing Secrets
If you drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, there are two routes you can choose from. You can drive up Interstate 5. It’s faster and there’s not much to see other than cows in fields. The other option is to take the Pacific Coast Highway, which has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
It takes twice as long. But there are twice as many reasons to stop. Twice as many reasons to take your time. Twice as many breathtaking views you wouldn’t have otherwise seen. In my five years at Berkeley, I made the drive from San Fran to LA dozens of times, and I never once took the scenic route. But I’ve been taking it every other part of my life ever since.
To say that my life hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would is an understatement. But I’d like to think that I’ve had twice as many experiences and twice as many opportunities and squeezed twice as much out of life as I would have if I hadn’t taken the scenic route.
Between the ages of thirty and forty, I’ve learned to surf, snowboarded down a black diamond, planned a conference, interviewed seven hundred people, and written two books. I’ve added destinations to my itinerary that were never on my list. I had no plans to do any of this.
It’s taken me twice as long to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And, at the rate it’s going, it seems clear that it will take me twice as long to do all the things you’re supposed to have done by the time you turn forty.
When you put a destination into a GPS, you know exactly how to get where you’re headed. Taking the scenic route means detours, unplanned stops, and unexpected turns. It means that things won’t go according to plan and your expectations won’t always be met. It means having the courage to ditch your map for a compass and to be guided by the thing that ensures your life will be interesting.
But it also means you’ll go places you never would have been, meet people you never would have met, and have experiences you never would have had. It means that amazing things will happen.
When life doesn’t go according to plan, you’re forced to take a detour. If you’re looking around and wondering where you’re headed, how you’re going to get there, and what you’re supposed to be doing with your life in the meantime, consider the following: Maybe you’re not a gigantic fuckup who is ten years behind on accomplishing your life goals. Maybe you’re just the taking the scenic route.
If you’re eager to read the whole story, you can find it www.unmistakablecreative.com/scenic