Thursday, June 08, 2006

Off the Beaten Path

“Look at the map. See if there is a different way we can take back,” my husband said.

(We were on vacation and had been out for a drive. Now we were ready to go back to the inn where we were staying.)

I unfolded the map and found a road that would take us a little out of the way, but at least it would be different than retracing our previous route. We decided to take it. Any road we have not been down makes for a good adventure. So off we went.

As we were driving a long, I noticed another road (not on our map) with a small, rather obscure sign that said “falls.” We turned off to check out this back road. What a lovely drive past scattered farms and brilliant azaleas and rhododendrons in full bloom. Then we saw it: water gushing in a beautiful cascade. We got out of the car to enjoy the full view. It was definitely worth our time.

Later I thought about how often we miss out on much of what life has to offer because we stay on the main road—the well-traveled highways. We stick with the familiar rather than venture down an unknown by-way.

It’s easy for most of us to fall into the same old ways of doing things. We eat the same foods, drive the same route to work, listen to music by the same artists, hike the same trails, etc. Without much thought, we go through one day in much the same way that we did the day before—and the day before—and the day before.

A case can certainly be made for having some predictability in our lives. Daily rhythms and routines can give us a degree of comfort, security, continuity, and even pleasure in a stressful world. This shouldn’t be minimized. “Sameness” isn’t necessarily bad. I like that first cup of coffee in the morning while I write in my journal. And every year I plant the same flowers in my flower pots—because that is what I like!

However, once in awhile, we would all do well to venture outside the our “box” and try some new things—eat some different foods—go some different places—read a different author. Even if we return to the familiar, we will have a fuller appreciation for what may have become ordinary and mundane.

It’s easy for me to get in a rut in most every area of my life, mindlessly doing everything just like I do every other day. So every now and then I purposefully force myself off the beaten path to try something new or different. It stretches me and makes me more aware. And along the way, I find that I have been enriched by moving out of my ordinary world.

Once I decided to take as many different ways to where I exercised as I could find. Many of the routes I took were down streets I’d never been on before. I tried going this way and then that way. Not only did I see neighborhoods that I have never seen before, I also ended up finding a short-cut. The way I normally drove had nine traffic lights. My new way only had three lights and one stop sign! That adventure definitely paid off.

Recently, I decided to plant eggplant in my garden. I have never tried to grow this vegetable before. Time will tell what I think of growing my own eggplant.

This morning I tried a new recipe for homemade granola. Yummy! It was great as a topping on my yogurt. And I’ve found a recipe I’m sure I will use again.

Last year at this time, I decided to try “blogging” for the first time. That was a huge step since I am somewhat technically challenged! Now one year later, I am still posting blogs. If I hadn’t stepped outside my norm, I would have missed out on a year of adventure online.

So get off the beaten path! Move beyond the status quo. Try something out of the ordinary. Enjoy the adventure. And if you try something new, let me hear about it.

Consider these ideas:

Drive down a road or street that you have never been on.
Try a new recipe.
Eat a new food.
Plant a new variety of vegetable in your garden.
Visit a local park or muesem that you have never been to.
Wear a color you don’t typically wear.
Read an author you haven’t read before.
Switch the radio to a different station.
If you typically walk in the evening, try walking in the morning.
Pick a different color of nail polish.
Choose something different on the menu of your favorite restaurant.

Note: See photos below!

(c) 2006 Marlene Depler


Sharon K said...

What a beautiful post you have. I love the idea of trying something new and different. And I just like you found many wonderful friends through blogging. We all should try a different road now and then.

Lori said...

I too love to try new things! I have started blogging myself that past month. I enjoy reading your post all the time. Good food for thought.

Paula said...

how true...getting off the main road and trying something different gives room for great new adventure and renewed appreciation of the steady things in life!...dyed my hair RED a while back and liked it...tried anchovy pizza last week; didn't like it! nothing ventured nothing gained.

Kerri said...

What great food for thought. Thank you! Your pictures are lovely too. Glad you found that gorgeous waterfall.
Thanks for always leaving such nice comments on my blog.