Unexpected turns and detours in our life can be difficult to deal with and even a little tough to talk about and try to explain to others. For example, what do you say when people ask you how you are doing or what it’s like when something happens in your life that takes you somewhere you never planned to be? How do you try to explain the feeling you have when you set out to achieve certain dreams and goals in life and you wind up reaching an entirely different destination?
Imagine you have always wanted to go to the beach. For years you dream about it and plan for it and then the day comes when you get on the plane that’s going to take you there. The flight is nice and relatively uneventful but you keep wondering how much longer it will be before you arrive. Then, finally, the plane lands. You gather your things and head for the exits. But when you step out onto the tarmac you realize you are not anywhere near the beach; instead, you are in the mountains.
You can’t believe it; you are in shock. How could this have happened? What went wrong? You scramble to find someone to talk to who can explain to you what’s going but everyone just keeps telling you that you are in the mountains and that there is no way to get to the beach from here—at least not for a very long time. It seems you boarded the wrong plane, or the plane flew in the wrong direction, or the pilot didn’t know what he was doing. You’re not sure; all you know is this is not what you wanted.
Eventually, sitting alone in the airport, you begin to come to grips with the fact that you are not at the beach and there is apparently no way to get there right now. There are no flights out and you don’t have enough money to buy another ticket anyway. And so you have a choice to make. You can either continue to sit there feeling sorry for yourself, or you can get up and go take a look around. The feeling of numbness is strong. You don’t really want to move. What should you do? How are you going to proceed?
After mustering up all your strength you decide to try to make the best of it. When you walk outside again you start to see that there are many nice things about the mountains. There are all kinds of trees you’ve never seen before. Birds and animals you once thought were only found at the zoo are everywhere. The air itself has a distinct freshness to it. Layers of rolling foothills leading up to more and more layers of mountain ranges surround you. A river winds its way through the valleys in between.
Soon you realize that you have to wear different clothes in the mountains. Swimsuits and flip-flops and suntan oil are exchanged for trousers, hiking boots and bug spray. Instead of the sound of waves lapping a sandy shore you have the sounds of crickets and tree frogs at night with an occasional hoot of an owl or howl of a wolf. Instead of laying out on the beach and feeling the sand between your toes, you find yourself hiking through rugged terrain. It can be difficult, but it can also be beautiful.
This is one way to describe what it’s like when you find yourself in unexpected places. You are initially in a state of shock. Frustration and confusion set in. If you’re not careful, you can become angry then bitter. You ask others what happened but no one seems to have the answers you want. At some point you begin to accept the reality of your situation and you begin looking around. That’s when you start to see that there is in fact some good in it. It’s not all bad; it’s just a different destination.