Recently I started thinking about travelling down a road you have been on before, both in a literal and metaphorical sense. Is it ever truly exactly the same experience? I think every time is different, in some way. Sometimes the differences are big and sometimes they are small.
Yesterday I went to the supermarket as I have done many times before. I took the same route. However when I came to the road that leads to the supermarket car park entrance it was blocked off due to road works. There was a detour sign. There have been lots of road works in my area recently so I am becoming accustomed to taking a detour. It is good that many of the pot holes are being repaired.
The weather makes a difference to the road. When it is raining heavily and it is difficult to see the sensible driver drives cautiously. Flooding is a major hazard. Hail makes driving more challenging, as does fog. During or after a storm there may be branches or even a whole tree on the road.
Sometimes the sun is shining right in your eyes making it difficult to see. There may be glare that causes a problem. In these situations the road may be clear but our vision isn’t.
There are days when the weather is fine for driving and one is not on alert for a hazard on the road. However, there may have been a car accident. Out on the open road there may be a dead animal on the road. A car that is overtaking or driving recklessly may cause a near miss. These factors make driving the same route a different experience and care needs to be taken.
There are times when it is not the road but the driver that is ‘different’. The driver may be tired, feeling unwell or anxious. This will make the experience different.
In life we may think we have travelled the exact same road before but each time will be different to some extent. The fact that we have travelled this route before makes it different. We may be more confident because we have done it previously.
Perhaps we have ‘travelled this road’ many times and now we do it on auto pilot without much thought. On the other hand we may be anxious because the last time we ‘travelled the road’ we had some sort of bad experience. This may have been something that happened in a physical sense or it may be something we thought could happen and now we feel nervous. Sometimes we ‘make a mountain out of a molehill’ and our fears hold us back from achieving our goal.
There are times when we go to do something we were once confident about because we did it often back then. However we haven’t done it for some time and now we feel uncertain. I had this experience some years ago when I invited a couple of friends around for a meal. There was a time when I frequently cooked a meal for friends and I was confident about doing so. Then I didn’t entertain for quite some time. When I prepared to cook this meal for friends I was surprised to find I was feeling anxious.
Yes, we have travelled this road before. However, today there will be some differences. Some of those differences will be influenced by what we are thinking. Other differences will just happen and we need to believe we can cope with them if they are challenging.