IS THERE A MANUAL FOR THAT?
Have you ever noticed how certain topics keep popping up in your life? You mention fresh garden produce and that triggers suggestions about how to cook them, the best farmer’s market; or a seed catalog arrives in your mailbox; or someone makes you a gift of tomato plants.In my life, it’s manuals . . . how-to instructions for everything from rearing teenagers (no, there is no manual; you make up your own) to quilting (expensive books abound, as well as freebies on the ‘Web) to how to get out of the mess you made of your computer (take a class; in the meantime, don’t touch the computer and call those people down the road who make a living cleaning up other people’s computer messes).
|Anywhere you go|
this is possible.
The truth of the matter is this: When you need help fast, there’s no manual around. There’s no friend or family member who can solve your dilemma in seconds. The nice people down the road are closed for the weekend. And the teenagers are still teenagers.So I’ve discovered a simple way to deal with nearly every stage of life—ROAD SIGNS.
Here in the Midwest summer is a time of continuous road construction. Beginning sometime in April, big yellow Caterpillar equipment blooms along the highways and byways.For those of us who want to get some place—the easiest, quickest, or best way—it behoves us to keep alert to our Smart Phones, our websites, and our newspapers (either in paper form or online) for announcements of roads due for work this very minute; roads already closed due to work; and a list of roads scheduled for work some time in the future.
[*As an aside—behoves is a correct spelling, though, according to my Merriam Webster, Chief. Brit. I bristle at the spelling behooves, because it looks wrong, and also because it sounds like it belongs in a stable yard. I have nothing against horses, by the way. In case you wondered.]Back to road work.
I travel the same 17-mile route a couple of times a week to get to Fort Wayne. My roads seldom vary, because they are the most direct for my destinations. Here are the messages I’ve been getting and the stages of life they might apply to:
|I like this for the teen years.|
- Slow – Construction Zone Ahead – good advice for the early years; childhood is definitely a time of construction
- Be Prepared to Stop – if you haven’t already lost your mind and ability to reason, try to remember this one when you deal with teenagers
- Detour – whatever your plans, if you’re a young adult or just starting your family, keep in mind that detours are temporary; eventually you get back on the route you wanted; or maybe a better one
- Road Work Ahead – empty nesters may recognize this one as they learn again how to live without kids underfoot 24/7/365; getting into a new lifestyle will probably require some road work
- Road Closed – I hate to see this one, because I’m at an age where a closed road means I’m having to give up some of my activities—arthritis makes sure of that; so does asthma or diabetes or heart disease or cancer (or you-name-it). So if one road is closed, there must be another one to travel. We can search for that one.
The road signs we see as we drive or ride by are meant to advise us of work going on that may hamper our travel plans. Once the road work is done, the inconvenience we had to endure made for a better road.
Who’s to say whether the metaphoric road signs—life derailed, things out of control, losses—were all bad? Since we can’t know what might have been, we are left with what was, and what is.
So, no manual. We find our own way through life, with the help of people, a faith community, books and studies. And always--good ol' Trial & Error. Your life, and mine, are the result of our choices, our decisions--our personal manuals. Like life, that manual is a living, growing thing—changing as we live it.
Let’s enjoy living, and celebrate the road signs that guide us along the way. Hope you make it safely to your destination.