My Way or the Highway: Preference not Ultimatum

“My way or the Highway,” the ultimate ultimatum. For many, it conveys “get in line with my thinking or hit the road.” It conveys that there is only one right way to accomplishing something. It exudes negativity, conformity, and operating “inside the box.” For many, this phrase can be quite defeating when on the receiving end. For those slinging it, it connotes arrogance.

However, for me, especially after many months of introspection, “My way or the Highway” is not an ultimatum but rather a vivid metaphor for my life choices over the past several years. It is not defeating, but rather uplifting. It serves as a reminder to consciously choose the path in life that is true to who I am. What do I mean by that? Travel both routes with me to discover the answer.



The Highway

Life in the fast lane. The quickest route. Many traveling on the same road. Cars jammed into two, three, or four lanes, zooming in the same direction, each but a blur to all others traveling the highway. Carswhipping in and out of lanes, many times without warnings. Travelers are honking at each other. Drivers are flipping the bird to each other. Road rage. GPS is yakking at you. Accidents are occurring as a result of excessive speed, mindlessness, and distractions.

Open road. Straight path. Miles and miles unfold rapidly. Signs flash by, unsafe to slow down or stop.

“Wait…did that sign say this exit or next? Shoot, I missed it!” GPS “recalculating route.” “Damn, I need to be in that other lane. No one is letting me merge.” Flip the bird, honk your horn and lane change, regardless of the consequences. Maybe pray first, or after, or both! Everyone does it. It’s how life operates on the highway.

Life on the highway. No real scenery to take in, and no time to do so even if there is. Fast. Fast. Fast. Gotta keep moving, keep up. To not do so is dangerous, hazardous. Slowpokes cause accidents.

Even darkness doesn’t slow the pace. Well-lit signs. Well-lit roadways. Cars’ headlights almost seem unnecessary.

Life on the deserted highway, the pace doesn’t slow. It increases! “No one on the road, no one  in my way….sweet…let’s open this baby up!” Fast. Fast. Fast.

Traffic jams slow the pace but fuel the impatience. Horns are honking. Drivers are on their phones. GPS quiet. Feverish attempts to reprogram it. “Gotta get moving! No time to waste. Why isn’t it recalculating my route?”

Finally, the pace resumes. Fast. Fast. Fast. Gotta make-up the time.

Final Destination: So how was your trip? What did you see along the way? What did you experience along the way? How did you feel along the way? What stories do you have to tell?

My Way

Life on the mountainous road. The slow route. Few travelers on the same path. Cars travel a single lane, self-paced. Pass with caution, when the need arises. Tooting at each other while waving as you pass. Road kindness. No GPS, there is no Wi-Fi! Few accidents. Stopping and assisting if you happen upon one.

Dense road. Winding path. Miles unfold slowly. Signs are few and far between. Slowing down or stopping to read.

“Ok…I got it. I’m on the right route!” GPS silent, well actually turned off. Offer up a prayer of gratitude. Everyone does it. It’s how life operates on the steep, rugged path.

Life on the winding way. Breathtaking scenery to take in, and all the time to do so. This is the scenic route after all. Slow and steady. Slow and steady. Slow and steady. Just keep moving, one mile at a time. To not do so is dangerous, hazardous. Perils are plenty on the rough, unmarked road. Careful to pay attention as the path unfolds. Potholes, downed trees, no guard rails. Aaahhh but the view…breathtaking!

Darkness slows the pace more so. Unlit signs. Unlit roadways. Cars’ headlights are a necessity. Speedsters cause accidents.

Life on the scenic route, the pace is slowed. “No one on the road, no one in my way….sweet…let’s slow to a crawl and take in the sights!” Creeping. Creeping. Creeping.

Traffic jams are non-existent. Solitude fuels mindfulness, awareness. Deafening quiet. No cell signal. GPS quiet. Beauty surrounds. “Think I’ll pull over, that view looks spectacular! Plenty of time to spare. I’ll film a panorama with my phone!” Breathing deeply in and out, the fresh, clean air. Eventually, the trip resumes.

Final Destination: So how was your trip? What did you see along the way? What did you experience along the way? How did you feel along the way? What stories do you have to tell?

Insights

I am drawn to the less traveled, more rugged and scenic path. I am more like the tortoise than the hare. But why does this road bring me such solace?

I know myself well enough to understand that nature is a very healing place for me regardless of the season. In the woods, it tends to be quieter no matter what the season. The highway is far from quiet. The sense of adventure that the forest gifts us is unmatched to that of the paved open road. I tend to be attracted to the more rugged and unmarked trails in life. Why is this? Why do I gravitate to the path less traveled? The path unknown? What is it for which I am searching?

I’m not sure I fully understand why the more difficult trail appeals to me, but it probably has something to do with my love of solitude, and maybe even a need to prove to myself that I can navigate successfully on my own. At 54 one would think I should have this ingrained, but I guess I don’t completely, and I’m ok with that.

The other realization and insight I have gleaned from hours of introspection is the multitude of occasions upon which I stop at a crossroads on the difficult road. Which way do I want to go? Which path do I want to take? Which one looks less traveled? But yet, I don’t want to miss anything hidden within the paths I choose to ignore. The highway does not tempt me to deviate, does not call me to stop and contemplate my route.

In life, I cannot readily revisit nor opt to explore the other pathways. What will I miss by choosing the paths I have not walked? Will there be a lesson I miss? I don’t have any regrets on where I am in life or of the paths I have taken thus far. I am very grateful for what I have, what I have accomplished thus far, and for where I am headed. I like to believe that if I miss a treasure on a path I choose to ignore that maybe either I don’t need to discover it or that it will appear on a path yet to be selected.

So I will continue to find nuggets of inspiration and insight as I forge through along the mountainous road, creeping, crawling, and baby stepping my way through life while daring to go deeper into the woods. For there is where the real treasures are hidden, and maybe that is why I am so drawn to the darker, denser, more rugged path less traveled.


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Dustin Meyer

Free thinking, somewhat radical, and very passionate. Take a trip through the mind of the creator and dreamer behind The Evolutionary Mind.

6 Comments

    • Well, you are absolutely right. I cannot miss something of which I am unaware but I still get “inklings” that maybe something was there even if I didn’t pursue it. It’s like you know a view will be gorgeous but you just don’t take that path to give yourself the opportunity to experience it ;). Thank you for reading and responding!

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