Unexpected Lessons

Being on the road at 3.15 a.m. to drive 450 kms was not in my plans for the weekend. I had been looking forward to a relaxing couple of days to allow me to recharge my batteries in readiness for the busy week ahead that lay ahead of me.

My eldest son, Simon and a group of his good friends were heading off for a week at the snowfields, however, due to last minute issue with their transportation; I willingly offered to help out and provide the extra car that was required to ensure that everyone get to the drop off point near the snow fields so that they could enjoy their week-break snow boarding and skiing.

As I set out on my early morning journey, the only thing I could think about at that time was no sooner had I arrived and  said my goodbyes, I would be on the road again to make the trip back home. In total, a round trip of 900 kms in just 10 hours.

Although the thought of such a long drive in one day was a daunting one, particularly as I was looking forward to that much required time to relax.

Over the years, I have come to realize that life events often happen to challenge you but don’t reveal their real purpose in real time. In the next 10 hours, I didn’t expect the situation to happen.

The drive to our destination was punctuated with the mandatory refresher and comfort stops. An early morning breakfast in a highway petrol station that could be best described as filling but far from nutritious. The dawning of a new day coupled with patches of fog, mist, and light rain which typifies a winter’s morning as you get closer to the snow fields.

As we drove, Simon and I talked a little about his week’s break and a host of what may have seemed unimportant and rather minor subjects. However, it was great to have this time with him as we rarely spend five continuous hours in each others’ company, other than the days when we played Saturday afternoon cricket together.

As I left to make the return trip back home, I had a strange sense of loneliness which quickly disappeared as I concentrated on driving through some very heavy early morning fog. Within an hour, I was through the fog and had a clear open road ahead of me. So I engaged with cruise control and spent the next four hours listening to some of my favorite CD’s.

When I was younger, I did a lot of country driving on my own and I often used this time to think about big picture stuff as well as issues and challenges I had in my business or personal life. Many of which would be clarified and to a certain extent resolved during these lengthy times of solitude inside my car.

On this day, I rekindled something from those years of driving long distances on my own. By the time I reached home, I had developed and set out a plan of action in my mind for one very important issue I had to deal with in the week ahead. Surprisingly after my long trip home, I was mentality refreshed and energized  even though I was physically tired and knew that I would sleep well that evening.

I am reminded of the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.’

What this unplanned trip to the snowfields had given me were two unexpected but very timely lessons: First is that we all need to and benefit from spending quality time with our family, loved ones and friends.

Second lesson is that a change in your environment, no matter how temporary it may be, can provide you with the opportunity to look at something from a different perspective and come away with a resolution, as well as be refreshed and energized.

I look forward to my next unexpected event and many more opportunities to spend quality time with those who are important to me and make my life more rewarding.

Inspired by a trip to the snow fields with my son and the need for some refreshed thinking.

Written by Keith Ready

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