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The Scenic Route by Brent Beeson

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  • Taking the "Scenic Route" - On the road and in Life!
    There is a reason I don't buy into the illusion that there are always simple paths in life (a straight line from point A to point B). Yes, it has to do with living my own winding journey and observing the path of my clients and colleagues. But maybe it also has to do with growing up in the mountains of WV - a "hillbilly" as we are "affectionately" called.

    I was driving home to Ohio from VA yesterday, and I decided to take US Rt 60 The Midland Trail. It had been a long time since I had taken this route through the middle of the WV mountains. Certainly not the quickest way home now that Interstate 64 cuts across the middle of the state.

    I was in the mood. Growing up in WV, I am drawn to seek out this kind of road from time to time. Even though it is the cusp of spring and the mountains are still mostly brown, the redbuds were were starting to bloom and the green was starting to return. New growth in the air.
    However, this is the kind of road where you can only briefly admire the view - the impressive rock formations of the mountains, the mountain pastures, and the broad mountain vistas. If you let your attention be drawn away for more than a split second, you are likely to become a permanent part of the view by slamming into a rock wall or sailing off a cliff.

    It is the type of road where you can't zone out driving and wonder later how you even got there. You have to be present and alert. You have to be in the moment. Gripping the steering wheel a little tighter than usual. Leaning your body into the curve with the car. Feeling the centrifugal force of tension as you whip from left to right in the constant S curves and switchbacks. Dodging and surfing the pot-holes opened up in the road by winter.

    Even the warning signs don't do it justice. The S curve signs don't let you know that you really have a series of 90 degree curves coming. The 90 degree curve sign really means you have a switchback of 120 - 150 degrees coming. (The kind of curve where if you could afford to divert your attention, you are sure you could look over your left shoulder as you leave the curve and see the trunk of your car still heading into the curve.)

    I couldn't help but think of the drive as a metaphor for life's journey. We will eventually get there, but I don't think we should delude ourselves into thinking it will be a straight smooth ride. If you are ever curious to know if your therapist understands the circuitous nature of your change process, you might ask them which stretch of such a road best represents it. In the case of the Midland Trail, I would say the twisted stretch from the heights of Hawk's Nest through the bend at Chimney Corner and on down to the broad waters of Gauley Bridge - and back!
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