I set off this morning, onwards and upwards, to some much anticipated personal and professional development. But before I did, I double checked the route using the Sat Nav app on my smartphone. It suggested an alternative route as the quickest, a cross-country route that I had never used for this destination before. I chose to go with it - surely all the technology within this tiny supercomputer had far more information than I could access as I sat in my tin bubble, I could still make good time.
Two miles into the journey, it directed me to turn off the main drag onto a smaller road. And instantly I hit an icy-patch, steady as she goes, I managed to regain control and ride it out to the end of the road a mile or two further on. The entire road was like an ice-rink! By the next junction I'd hoped it was a one-off, perhaps one that the gritters had missed, as I turned... it was worse. This theme continued, with each turn bringing hopes that were dashed. We were going from bad to worse and my naturally optimistic attitude of 'this will pass' and 'there will be something better just around the corner' was surely being tested.
The traffic became heavier there were moments of complete standstill. Recognising that at this point I had no control, I called ahead to let them know I was going to be late. Relief came again in the form of the next turning, which appeared clear. Carefully and cautiously I took the turn. I wasn't far down this road when ahead, halfway up a hill, I found a truck (what appeared to be a recovery vehicle - oh the irony!) had gone off the road into the verge and into the hedge. Three other cars scattered across the scene, unharmed but not moving. I was committed, there was no way I was heading back to the traffic jam! 'You can do this! Just do your best, take it section by section, take your time, don't panic', I thought to myself.
And so I did, there were two points I got stuck, not able to get any traction to move forward, considering that I might need to call a recovery truck of my own now. Others started to bail, but one managed to break free - there was hope! The other side of the road was clearer, I took a moment to steady myself and slowly started to gain a steady momentum.
"WOAH YEAH!!!" I screamed as I congratulated myself on my victory, as I made it to the top of the hill. The next couple of roads were better. Things were getting easier, I'd made it to the other side, and the rest was smooth sailing. Half an hour late, but grateful I got there in one piece, it was otherwise a great day.
On the journey home (needless to say I stuck to the main roads!), I reflected on how this journey could be a metaphor for relationships. For them to be successful they take commitment (our feelings may sway from time to time), they take work and the realisation that they aren't always going to be smooth sailing. There will be ice-patches, and dry-patches, moments where you feel in control of your destiny, and times you feel lost and stuck. There may be times you're unsure you're on the right track, sometimes you may wonder if it's time to bail. There could be twists, turns, a few bumps and scrapes - no-one gets out completely unscathed. But there will also be moments of excitement, elation, exploration, freedom and connection. Whether the relationship goes the distance or not, they are a constant source of learning, about ourselves and others.
But it also a reminder of how important it is to work with what's in front of you and listen to your gut. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the outcome we want so badly, that we forget that to really move forwards, we may need to take a step a back and look behind us. You see, when I took that first turn onto the icy path, I could have paused, checked the route and considered what could've been waiting for me up ahead. I had every opportunity to turn back, before I was in too deep. Of course hindsight is always a wonderful (and helpful) thing! Similarly, how many times have we entered into a relationship and chose to ignore the red flags and warning signs around another person? In my experience it's those relationships that, had we listened to our instincts and trusted our gut, we could have saved ourself a lot of wasted time, energy and pain.
From pain there are always great opportunities for transformational learning, so we can chalk it up to experience and grow from it. Know that we don't always have to learn the hard way. Instead of always being motivated to move away from, or avoid what we don't want. There is an alternative approach, where we can take a step back, reflect and get clarity on what it is we do want, what we stand to gain from it and how we can go about getting it. When it comes to choosing a partner, what do you want? What kind of person are they and what values will they demonstrate that they have?
This experience also makes me question whether we rely too heavily on the technologies so easily available to us these days? Just in the same way that we are infallible, especially when acting on false data, so can they. Only you can judge how truly helpful dating sites and dating apps are for you. Trust your judgement, you are the expert on you. How helpful is it for you? Is it giving you what you need? How do you know?... And if it's not working, ditch it.
There is always another way!