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Otherwise known as the scenic route, sometimes the long way round can bring you unexpected beauty, a better sun tan and a new understanding of how your body copes with new action or inaction. But sometimes the long way round means that, with every pace, the sense of direction is less tangible, the gains a little less certain and the constructive outcomes lost. More often than not, your gut tells you that you’re taking the long way round. If we were all immortal, the long way would never matter, but at some point frustration starts to bed in.

When I was a kid, there was a military coup and we had to make our home as safe as possible. Mattresses went up in the windows and we commando-crawled around the house to avoid being in the line of fire or of shrapnel. My grandad, who happened to be visiting, refused to be sent to the floor, standing upright in the middle of the room, whilst the adults negotiated with him from feet level. I remember wondering why he was taking such a long time to do something he knew in his heart he would have to do it anyway.

Some of us choose the scenic route, not just for an isolated incident, but over and over again. Instead of stopping every once in a while to catch our bearings, we march into situation after situation which mirrors the previous. We kid ourselves it’s a new vista, but no, once your eyes attune to the surroundings, you realise you’re pretty much where you were before.

A lesson never goes away until it is learned is a phrase with which I am slowly becoming friends. I always felt like I learned, but in truth, I just learned to distract my gut feeling with a pretty new signpost which seemed to lead me away to a brighter future, but actually meandered me back to the same point. Now, if I ever spot myself feeling a sense of déjà vu, I make sure I stop and take stock. Our sense of direction in life is faultless, if we are in tune with our own compass. And when we’re on course, things flow easier, obstacles move away quicker and happiness and gratitude become boundless. (And don’t ever get caught up in the seduction of a possible ‘shortcut’ either)

So next time, whilst the scenes may look better than ever before, check in and make sure it’s not just the long way round to nowhere. Because life’s too short to never start the real journey. It’s too short to sit around waiting for a guide to whisk you away. It’s too finite to squander in the first place you arrive where there’s comfort. There’s love and opportunity, health and all other unimaginable wealth to be had, if only we will set ourselves off on the right path each time we feel we’ve strayed.

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