Don’t you love a good shortcut? Behind my house, there is a path that goes down a somewhat steep bank; it leads to a playground. When my youngest was small enough to need carrying down the path, I was always hesitant to walk down there. I would hem and haw over the pros and cons of the path. It took less than a quarter of the time to walk to the playground if we took it, but what if I slipped and fell while carrying my infant child? Inevitably, I would come up with a rational plan for preventing a fall so that we would be able to get there more quickly. The inconvenience of the steepness of the path was nothing when compared with the saved time. The shortcut was, indeed, worth it.
Shortcuts are seductive, though, because we love paths of least resistance. And, sometimes, we don’t assess the pros and cons of taking those paths. We just allow ourselves to get pushed along, in spite of the real dangers on those roads. We end up in toxic relationships because the guy is charming and good-looking; we quit school to take a job that makes a lot of money but gives no real satisfaction; we convince ourselves that we can’t be or do something because the risks make us too vulnerable.
There is an antidote to the intoxicating allure of shortcuts: resistance. Resistance in the form of questions like, “What do I really want? Whom do I really want to be? How does this decision affect the people I love? What am I really trying to accomplish?” That resistance can act like a paddle in the river, redirecting us to avoid hazards and dangers, and forcing us to determine if the shortcut is really taking us where we want to go. Those questions can also help us decide if maybe the long way around might be the better choice in this case. Either way, providing the resistance makes you the driver, instead of a helpless passenger.
Now that I have totally mixed my metaphors, I just want to wish you happy driving, paddling or hiking on your particular road, river or path. May your shortcuts be worthwhile and your journey be an adventure!
Thanks so much to K who gave us permission to share her pics with you. I know that doing this shoot was an act of resistance against some of the stories she had believed about herself. We’re glad we could be a part of your journey, K!