September 18, 2008

Making a “Wrong” Turn

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  — Thomas Edison

Have you ever taken a “wrong turn” in your life that led to a greater opportunity?

When my children were little, we took many great camping vacations throughout California. I remember one in particular, however, that started off as a nightmare.

We had an old camping book that described what seemed an ideal spot for adventure. The site was tucked back in the mountains along the California coast, far from civilization. So we packed up our tents and a week’s supply of food, hopped into the van early one morning, and made headed off on our great excursion!

Or so we thought.

We arrived at this “idyllic” campground late in the afternoon to discover something that looked more like a set out of “Apocolypse Now.” The water supply was fouled. The sites were overgrown and ill- kempt. And there wasn’t another soul around for miles.

Did I mention the mosquitoes? The word “swarm” doesn’t do justice to the horde of creatures that filled the air.

Yet it was late, and getting darker by the minute. Getting back to the main highway would take at least an hour. But the bugs and lack of fresh water made our decision for us. Hot and tired, with night fast approaching, we made our way back down to the coastal highway in search of a place where we could spend the night.

The kids were hungry. My wife and I were frustrated and angry. In self-defense we pulled into a little campground on the roadside, the sort of place RVs use for a night’s layover. The fog was moving in fast, so I hastily set up camp while my wife prepared something quick to eat.

We turned in, disappointed, too exhausted to even consider talking about our options for the rest of our trip. It certainly hadn’t started off very well.

The following morning I arose to make a fire and start a pot of coffee on the old camp stove. I remember stepping out of the tent into a mind-blowing sunrise and just standing there, astonished at what we had found.

We were camped on a grassy knoll overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The fresh salt air filled my lungs, and I smiled. Behind us lay the hills leading into the Ventana Wilderness. What I had thought was a simple one-night-turnout was in reality one of the most beautiful little campgrounds I’d ever seen.

We ended up spending our entire vacation there, hiking in the hills or exploring the trails that led down to the ocean. The boys ate it up, and my wife and I relaxed into one of the best trips we ever had.

Sometimes we can take what appears to be a wrong turn in life. But by being open to possibility, we can discover that this “wrong turn” can become just the thing we need to grow.

– Points to Consider

Remember the last “wrong turn” you took? What happened? How did things turn out?

If you are where you want to be for your life right now, was it really a wrong turn after all?

And if you feel as though you’re traveling on a wrong turn, stop and assess where you are in this creative moment. What can you do to become the change you need for your life?

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