As children, my siblings and I played with the children who lived two doors down. As you can image there was much traffic of small feet coming and going between houses. We had three routes to get to one another’s home. The first one involved going down the length of our driveways and hitting the main road. The second was making our way through the brush and briars in the darkened woods. The third was to zip through the yard of the neighbor between us. We opted to take the short cut through the neighbor’s yard.
After a period of time we cut a well-worn path right through the grass. Our neighbors were really nice people who adored children but also kept an immaculate yard. As they would never endanger our safety, they didn’t ask us to take the road or roam through the woods, but they did ask us to create another path at the very edge of their yard which ran along the woods.
A few times we did take the road. The speeding cars frightened me, not to mention the smell of the fumes. And of course, if we happened to be barefoot in the summer, there was the heat of the asphalt and the pain of loose gravel cutting our feet. However, we could hear the roar of the river so loudly we could almost feel the coolness of the water’s mist. If we peered over the bank edges we could see the water falling in spits and splurges over the dam. The sun sparkled like diamonds across the river’s surface and occasionally we would watch a fish jump up and form a splash and a ring in the water.
When we went through the woods, we could hear the gruff voices of men working in the soapstone plant below. I was always afraid someone was watching us. And of course, during the summer months we feared getting bitten by a snake or contacting poison oak or ivy. However, we could listen to the slight gurgle of the stream below, the twitter and song of the blue jays and robins, and the scurrying of the squirrels. If we were barefoot we could feel the cool dampness of the forest floor. We could see more tones of green among the moss, weeds, and leaves than we knew existed. And we always scored a wild daisy or other pretty bloom along our way.
Often in life we fear taking the long route. We prefer instant gratification. We want to save time. We insist on short cuts. How much do we miss out on due to fear or impatience?
Next time you attempt to take yet another short cut, take a deep breath and go the long way. You never know what you might see, hear, feel, or learn along the way.