Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I remember reading "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost in English class.

At the time, I found it a cool poem. It was a nice read, I liked the idea of following your own path and I've always been a sucker for things that make you consider "what if"?

I mention Frost's poem because it popped into my head the other day while sitting in church. The preacher was talking about gratitude, and during the sermon he made a comment about life's detours. He noted that often life's detours are a positive, not a negative, but most of us lack the ability to see them that way. It got me to thinking and I want to share my thoughts with you all.

When most of us see the word "detour" while driving, we think of aggravation and a change of plans. When we hear someone talk about taking a "detour" in life, we think of them falling of track. But both of those thoughts are shallow.

Think about when detour signs are erected on our highways and byways. They typically warn drivers of a road hazard up ahead and advise us to take an alternate route out of protection. Sometimes the danger is because of freak accidents, other times it's because of ongoing road repairs to make our driving experience better in the long run. But, when you think about it, rarely are detour signs erected just as an annoyance. They are honestly a warning about impending danger, a warning that is typically justified.

And what happens when we obey detour signs? We often have to take the "scenic" route to our destination. Sure it adds time to our journey, but it often allows us to explore a new neighborhood, to have an atypical experience. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's bad, but it definitely relieves the monotony of life.

It also forces us to pay attention to our driving, it forces us to focus on the task at hand. We can't just drive on autopilot when we're taking a new route because we're not aware of all the hazards. Finally, when we take detours, we often express more gratitude and happiness upon arriving at our destination. The additional difficulty on the journey leads to added appreciation at arrival.

I'm sure most of y'all can see how this relates to real life, not just driving. Detours in life may seem like a problem, but often they prevent us from making even larger mistakes. Every dream deferred does not dry up in the sun and burst, some of them just get a nice tan, while others become tasty raisins. Lol. Seriously, sometimes God puts detours in our path to focus on him, to force us to realize where our strength comes from. For those of you who don't believe in God, detours can allow you time to do some much needed self-evaluation.

Detours give us time to appreciate what we have and they force us to appreciate what we get in the future. Detours provide us with new experiences that make us more well-rounded and make our lives fuller. Detours are not ridiculous aggravations designed to make our lives miserable. They are warnings and opportunities all wrapped up in one.

Take a detour.



Redbonegirl97 said...

Good one. I know I am on a Detour of a detour of a detour.

Peace, Love and Chocolate

Imhotep said...

When you take a path that's presented to you, is it really a detour, or simply the path you were intended to take?

If you bemoan having to take a detour, I see it as more a response to the inconvenience, and not recognizing the reality of the absence of choice in the path that MUST be traveled.

Obviously a fork in the road is not a detour, its a just a choice, and which ever you choose will bring it’s own benefits and burdens. OTOH a dream deferred is a dream denied.

Big Man said...


Deferred is not denied.

Deferred is delayed. Often we humans view delay as denial. In fact, I've often had preachers discuss that mindset when talking about prayer and our expectations from prayer. The logic goes that God has three options when answering your prayers: Yes, No and Wait.

The waiting is often part of the detour from the path you would rather take.

And, we don't always have to go along with the detours in life anymore than we have to obey the detours on the road. We can forge ahead, ignoring the warning signs or advice and then suffer the consequences.

Deacon Blue said...

Good thoughts.

I know my move out to New England some 9 years ago was a detour that I had often seen as a burden and annoyance, but in hindsight it's been a good thing.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, I like you, know the difference between deferred and denied, but since you decided to pull from Langston Hughes, I decided to go there with you. Given the social context of the time, (Black America 1920’s) Black people’s dreams had to be deferred, forever, in essence denied. The dreams were not intentionally deferred, they were forced into deferment, never to be realized. Call me nuts, but I view that as denied.

I don’t view waiting as a detour. If you’re standing still or doing something else (while waiting), perhaps that’s what you should be doing, and if you’re doing what you are suppose to be doing is that a detour? And really, a detour to what? And for what reason? I think there is some Christian speak going on here, where you wait for the play to be over, and based on the outcome you then determine God’s motives.

Personally, I don’t believe there are detours in life. There is just life, you live it as it comes and with whatever proclivities you bring to each situation.

I do believe in opportunity cost, to me that’s real. So whatever you’re doing, you forego the opportunity to do something else. That’s not a detour, that’s just life.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Fantastic post. What you said here is memorable. Thanks.

Big Man said...


I see your point and didn't realize you were speaking in the context of the the 1920s.

I disagree on the idea that every path you take is the path you should be on by virtue of the fact that it is the path you are on.

Personally, I think we have a potential life and a life we actually live. The problem is that we as humans typically lack the vision to see our potential life.

Thus, we create our on life paths and anything that diverts us from that path is in our minds a detour.

Diverting from that internal vision may actually bring us closer to our potential life, but in our minds it is still a detour. That's the concept I was trying to convey in this story, and hopefully encourage folks to think of those detours differently.

Now, on the Christian speak thing, I'm reminded of the cliche "Hindsight is 20/20."

Often, it's only after the fact that we can truly assess what has happened and why. Whether it's about God or not. Historians and religious folks share this practice.

Tit for Tat said...

Great Post

Tit for Tat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Raving Black Lunatic