Recently I was invited to take part in a resource fair for a university-sponsored autism walk. The location was several hours away in a city I’d never traveled to before. Being unfamiliar with the exact route between points A and B, I made sure to pack my GPS along for the ride. My trusty GPS led me to my destination without a hitch, and the resource fair and autism walk were a big success.
About halfway home, I got a little distracted listening to the radio and blindly followed the GPS navigations through the one large city on my route. Only to discover that the route my device had chosen was *not* the route I wanted to take. I wanted to stay on the interstate, but the GPS wanted to take me up a two-lane highway through the backwoods of north Alabama. Warning: alternate route!
Of course, by the time I realized that, it was too late to turn around without adding a significant delay to my travels. And besides, it was a beautiful autumn afternoon. I wasn’t *really* in a rush to get home. If it took me a little bit longer than originally planned, it wouldn’t be a big deal. No, I wouldn’t be able to set the cruise control and mindlessly drive along the interstate. I’d have to slow down for every small town along the way, stopping several times for traffic lights signifying the “downtown” area of every little city. But the leaves were changing and the road was winding, and how often would a relaxing afternoon opportunity like this come along?
And what does this have to do with mental health?
It made me pause and consider how much life resembles my navigation device. We make a plan, we decide where we’re going, we plug our destination into the GPS, we set the cruise control, and we just go. We don’t really pay attention to the road or what we pass along the way because our focus is on getting where we want to be. FAST.
And so on the rare occasion when the GPS goes “off course”, we may feel out of sorts and try our hardest to get back on track as quickly as possible. When what might serve us better is to simply enjoy the alternate route life sometimes sends us on. Appreciate the slower pace of driving. Notice the changing scenery outside the car windows. Be grateful for the opportunity to experience something a little unexpected.
How often have you set out on a journey only to discover you’ve taken an alternate route somewhere along the way? I know it’s happened to me, more than once! And how will you react the next time it happens?
If you’re curious about how music therapy might help, contact me anytime. I’m always happy to answer questions!