I had a friend in high school who’s parents wouldn’t let him drive on the highway for the first year after he got his driver’s license. In New York City, where I now practice therapy, you could get around okay, but in Columbus, OH, it takes a hefty amount of creativity to get anywhere you want to go avoiding the highway. My friend got to know the side streets pretty well.
I spot a metaphor at the next exit
When you’re driving on surface streets, in most big cities, you won’t get very far without seeing signs pointing you towards the highway. Highway travel is most efficient, it seems and keeps the number of cars cruising through local neighborhoods to a minimum. Sometimes, it’s actually hard not to end up on the highway because everything seems to converge there.
There’s a lot in our emotional lives that compels us towards crazy, like a giant, well-lit on-ramp: It’s the way we’ve always done things, it’s what everyone else seems to be doing, or what everyone else seems to want us to do. A good amount of the time, crazy, in spite of leading nowhere good, is the path of least resistance.
It just feels right.
Steering clear of crazy requires vigilance. It means finding an alternate path from Point A to Point B, ignoring the giant green roadsigns and even, at times, catching ourselves right before we make a turn onto the 12-lane superhighway towards Crazy-ville.
It’s especially hard when everyone else is cruising in that direction. We’ve got to be willing to embrace weirdness and to resist the temptation to be normal when “normal” means doing something that’s not good for us.
There will always be reasons to pull onto the highway to Crazy-ville. The highway is design for comfort–smooth pavement with nice, wide lanes. Only it won’t always take us in the direction we want to go, though. If you’re going to find an alternate route, to somewhere worth going to, you’re going to have to stick to side streets, perhaps make some wrong turns along the way, and get creative.
And if you need directions, call.