We have a running joke in my family about driving out of the way known as “taking Route 29.” The saying stems from my father-in-law’s dislike for driving on the Interstate. When traveling to visit his daughter and her family in Durham, he will avoid the much quicker I-95/I-85 route and take one that wends its way through the two-lane byways of the Mid-Atlantic States—much of which is Virginia Route 29. The journey typically takes two days instead of the usual nine or ten hours.
So when someone in my family finds ourselves taking the long way around to get somewhere, we call it “taking Route 29.” It always draws a chuckle and has become shorthand for the slow way of doing things and getting places.
Until, that is, when on a recent trip to Greensboro, Google Maps sent me on—you guessed it—Route 29. I had visions of meandering from East Nowheresville to North Wheretheheckami. Yet I was pleasantly surprised to find a modern, quick-moving highway that took me through greening fields and small towns. There was less traffic than on I-81 or I-64. I made terrific time, shaved miles off the trip, had more fun driving and gained a new appreciation for the scenery around me.
Which got me thinking (there’s always a lot of time to think during a drive to North Carolina): how else had personal perspectives and long-held beliefs caused me to avoid a potentially better path? Is constantly striving for the quick way home causing me to miss out on a more satisfying journey? Are my destinations so important that I lose sight of how I get there?
In many aspects of our lives, we look for the easy answers, the paths of least resistance, the quick fixes. Even in our spiritual relationships, we often look for the fast track. But is that really the best way to go? Can taking the perceived “long way ‘round” get us to a better place?
I know, a lot to consider. It’s amazing how a small thing like turning onto a road in the middle of Virginia can alter a perspective. That ride down Route 29 illustrated to me that letting go of a long-held viewpoint can lead to a better journey.
Mike Riess is editor of The Moravian Magazine.