off-roading

 

Fasten your seatbelts all my Type-A’s…

Turns out, there’s nothing wrong with a little off-roading.

I know from personal experience that if your comfort zone is between the white lines, you would never even dream of off-roading.

You use your blinker and obey the posted speed. You map out your course before you leave the house, and always get there on time. You keep your hands at 10 and 2.  Anything less would be imperfect and unacceptable to a Type A.  We pride ourselves in keeping it between the lines.

We live our lives between the white lines because that’s exactly what people have come to expect of us. And frankly, that’s what we’ve come to expect from ourselves. Our lives are acceptable, predictable…comfortable.

Off-roading is a total departure from our style. It’s bumpy and dirty. It’s untraveled and unpredictable. It’s messy. And personally, my fear has always been that someone might see me off-road and judge me for veering from the mainstream.

Life isn’t always lived on Main Street.  Sometimes the best living is done off-road.
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Getting yourself a little off the straight and narrow doesn’t mean you are completely off the map. It doesn’t even mean you are off-course just because you took a road less traveled by. (According to Robert Frost, “it makes all the difference.”) No, maybe you just took a little detour. Maybe there was an unplanned stop.  Or maybe you just needed a break from the monotony of keeping it between the dashes—a break from being so damn perfect all the time.

When I was learning to drive, my dad took me out on the freeway for the first time in our big family Suburban. I didn’t have my bearings yet of how it felt to keep that big vehicle between the lines.  I remember coming up the entrance ramp on Highway 121 and asking him, “How do I know if I am keeping it in my lane?”  Daddy said, “A good indicator is to keep the Chevy hood ornament in line with the stripes.”  Even at 16, I was a Type A. So I followed his directions to the letter.  Forty-five minutes later, Daddy swallowed hard when I told him that I had stared at that hood ornament the entire time we were on the freeway.

But, that’s the thing about living life between the lines. Our vision can become so tightly focused in on doing the right thing, that we lose sight of opportunities in the periphery that are passing us by. We never engage in really living because we never stop driving.

We miss moments to be fully present with our children for tickles and kisses because we are so focused in on getting their shoes tied so we can get out the front door. We miss an evening dancing like a white girl because God forbid, someone might see us dance like a white girl. We miss a moment to be vulnerable with a close friend because we are too afraid to ask to be held.  We miss a candid, healing conversation with God because it’s so painful to face our failures and tender places.

Off-roading is risky.

I’ve never been much of a risk-taker.  I made it my mission at 16—and for most of my adult life—to keep myself between the lines. To exceed expectations. To make my destinations on time (or five minutes early – thanks, Daddy). To focus on perfection at all costs.  But living at that speed is freakin’ exhausting.

I don’t want life to pass me by because I am staring straight ahead, locked in on that damn hood ornament all the time.  Life is not lived on the freeway. That’s where it is driven. |Click to Tweet|

I like living a little off-road. I’ve found my closest friends don’t judge me for spinning the tires and kicking up gravel. They laugh at me and with me and get messy too. And when I get banged up a little, they cry with me, assess the damage and never police me for making mistakes.

So, screw the freeway. Life is really lived off-road.

 

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