For the past few months I’ve been running in the dark a few times a week, literally. To get my run on requires a 6am start. Running in the dark was born out of necessity; my wife leaves for work at 7am. Once the missus leaves it’s Daddy time, and the various parental todo’s of getting the 4 year-old daughter and 5 month-old son up and ready to head out the door kick in. Food. Clothes. Diapers. Milk. Cell phone. Car keys. That sort of thing.
The morning run is a fairly straight forward pursuit. It involves a path that looks like one big rectangle. You begin, take four turns, and return back at the beginning. For me that beginning is home.
After taking one of these four turns this morning I noticed something odd: the front gate on the house to the right was open. That gate is always closed. And behind that gate is always has a big dog barking. Crap. Better keep running. The next sign something was amiss was across the street. There was a house across the street. There had never been a house across the street before, how did that pop up out of nowhere? Super strange.
The final wake-up call that I was in foreign territory was the song playing on my iPod. I’ve listened to the same 5k play list for years now. After a while you can track time, location and distance, at least to a certain extent, by what song in the 5k list is being played. In this case Linkin Park’s Bleed it Out was playing. That can’t be right. At this turn the play list should be two songs ahead, that’s when Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name normally starts.
Do I forge ahead in the dark and hope I can find my way back home? Or turn around and get back on the path? The problem with forging ahead was the unknown, not knowing if I’d passed the street our house was on. This detail would decide whether the next turn would be a left or a right. It would also determine whether I’d get even more lost, or be back on track.
There was also an element of time to consider. My wife needed to get out the door for her morning commute. I needed to get the kids ready to go and head to the church office. The clock was ticking.
Crap. Crap. CRAP.
Unsure of exactly where I was at, and unsure of what was ahead, I chose to turn around. It felt a little embarrassing. It probably hurt my pride a bit, I really should know our neighborhood better by now, right? Heck I’d run this same EXACT route several dozen times. Later at home I apologized to my wife for being late and sheepishly explained about getting lost. She smiled, continued to get ready for work, and gave me a kiss goodbye a few minutes later. All was right in the world.
The experience, for as little a part of life as it was, got me thinking. When else had I taken a wrong turn before? How long had I taken to realize it? Had I decided to forge ahead – in the dark at times – or turned back to find my way? One example that came to mind was with my last career. I had taken a wrong turn toward following the values of corporate America. The farther along this path I got the more lost I became. The darker things became.
The experience also got me thinking about the concept of home. Home can be many things. For me home is family, friends, and a faith community. When I get lost in life I turn away from each of these in various ways. The results typically suck. Depression. Isolation. Brokenness. Yuck.
What about you? What wrong turns have you taken in life? How did they turn out? Are you in the middle of a wrong turn now? Are you forging ahead, hoping to find your way in the dark, or considering turning back to a better path? Does the path lead home?