Turning Left

As humans we have the tendency to fall into routines — routines which can become rather boring — more importantly routines that give us little reason to “Think Differently”. We drive the same route to and from each place, we work at the same desk, at the same computer, at the same chair. We stare at the same colors, wearing the same seven outfits — which often consist of just a few colors. We have the same conversations with different people, and different conversations with the same people.

It’s all habit and habit is boring.

I am prone to falling prey to habits, just the same as everyone else. When I catch myself stuck in a habit — stuck in a routine — I pull myself back into the interesting world of spontaneous. I buy a shirt or a pair of pants that don’t blend with the rest of my clothes — that don’t fit the preconceived image of me that I store locked away in my brain. Most importantly, to me and to my life, I change up the routes I drive.

I turn left where I would normally turn right. So what if it adds fifteen minutes to my drive, those are going to be fifteen interesting minutes. You are going to pass things you don’t normally see and in turn you are going to excite parts of your mind that we rarely use any more — the parts that help us to navigate.

I drive 45 minutes to work and 45 minutes home from work, four days a week, every week. I drive countless other places during everyday of every week to go to places like: buildings I manage, drug store, liquor store, grocery store, take-out, bank, restaurants, bars — the usual places for any 28 year old guy living in Seattle. What I try to do — much to the annoyance of my wife — is to occasionally take the road less traveled.

The fastest way for me to get to work is to turn left, then right, right again, merge onto I5, take the exit, turn right, right again, right yet again, then left and left. I’m there. Some days I turn in the opposite direction or take different exit, somedays my life is a little different.

I won’t sit here and tell you that on those days I am better at my job, or that I am even happier. I won’t tell you that I get any real meaning out of changing how I get from point X to point Y — but I do know that it doesn’t hurt me. Sure, it takes me an extra 5 minutes to get somewhere — big deal.

If “variety is the spice of life” then turning left where you turn right is anything but bland.

People often ask me how I think of topics to write about, or how I find the motivation to do “so much”. The truth is: much of the ideas I come up with are arrived at while I am driving somewhere — and I can’t help but think that, in some small way, this is because I turned left where I should have turned right.

Originally posted for members on: April 25, 2011
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