April 2nd, 2012

Eventual Left

I take three main roads on my way to work every morning. The first major street I turn onto is two lanes where I start on it, but after a half mile it turns into a four-lane street right before the first stoplight.  When my side splits into two, I immediately get into the left lane. Why? Because in 4.2 miles, I need to make a left turn. It’s so much easier to get into that lane right then at the starting point because no one is in the next lane and it’s a very slight movement of my steering wheel. The way the split is designed, I don’t even need to activate the turn signal. Seven stoplights later, I make my left turn.

I know it doesn’t strictly apply because the road curves and turns, but I frequently think of angles when I initially get in the left line, 4.2 miles ahead of the turn. If two people are walking in parallel lines, and suddenly one of them takes a 5-degree turn and they keep walking, they’ll get farther and farther apart. That little angle turn at the beginning ends up making a huge difference.  I’m a big fan of the “shortest distance between two points is a straight line” maxim.  Even at work, if I’ve got several things I need to attend to, I’ll plan my route to be the shortest way to get to all of them.  I know where I’m headed, so let’s figure out how to get there.

You’d think that would carry over into life. You’d think I’d look twenty years from now and say, “That’s where I want to end up” and make the small angle change now to start me that direction. For some reason, when it’s important, I’m not as easily able to do it.  Eventual left? Make the change now!  Life goal?  Eh… we’ll see what happens. To a certain degree, that can be a good thing. I can be more flexible should something show up.  But it’s not really a plan.

Part of the problem is not knowing what that eventual goal is, I think. I’ve been feeling lately that there’s something out there I should be doing (“should” in the sense of “would be a great fit for”), but I can’t figure out what that is. I’m not sure how you figure that sort of thing out. I feel like once I figure that out, the angle change will come to me.