When life takes the scenic route

My brother is scunered. I’ve got a few long phone calls lately. He can’t hack it…all this time on his hands. The unemployment agency wants him to pick something he is interesting in and ‘go back to school.’ Difficult for someone who feels he is on the wrong side of fifty and is only interested in work. He did try some ‘taster class’ and found himself sitting in a circle drawing. “Ice breaking, they called it.” He surprised himself. His doodle was the only one that looked remotely like a pig. There is a competitive streak in my brother! There is also a lot of resistance.

When life seems to take the scenic route most of us feel challenged. Quite often our internal GPS refuses to budge from the road or mind map we are following. Some of us cope better than others. At the minute nearly everyone is going back to some type of ‘school’ or jumping ship. My big bro’ feels he is too old to do either. “It’s a bit late for me going back to school and too early for me to retire.” “It’s only too late if you’re not breathing.” I tell him. “You’ve just retired a few years earlier. That’s all, and sure, isn’t it great you’re still fit to go back to school.” He manages a good hearty laugh before breaking off to give me an update on the wildlife that has taken up residency in his back garden. The mood lifts a little as he delights in the gifts that nature offers us when we slow down long enough to pay attention. “A computer course might be alright,” he says suddenly. “Think there’s one in October.” “So, go in October then.” “Yeah…I might,” he says.

He turns his attention to me. A few days later he arrives with a spring in his step to tackle a few outdoor jobs. Just like life, everything doesn’t go according to plan. A plug is damaged in transit, and the lead is permanently attached to a machine. It proves difficult to detach it. I leave him for a bit and when I come back, frustration has risen like fog over the lawn. I tell him I have to run my boy to a birthday party. “Wana come for the drive?” He looks at me like I’m not wise and turns back to the decapitated machine. “I’m going up to Carn over the mountain road, great scenic route.” “Well, that will get the work done,” he says, without lifting his head. “We could find a hardware store and fix that plug.” The bait works. In the car, he scowls for all he’s worth. I chance a glance at him. “The way I see it, it’s great you’re here.” His eyes and mouth gape open. Shaking his head he settles back half laughing. As we trundle along towards Carn he notices the turf cutting and the lakes in the shadow of Slieve Snaght.

Life takes us down many a road in life and when we are not prepared for it, it can be a tad frustrating. However, on hindsight, it is often appreciated that life takes us to where we need to be and offers us a series of opportunities that at first can be perceived as impossible situations. What challenges are you facing now that could be an opportunity for you to appreciate the scenic route you are on? My brother is out of work, but for a few moments, he enjoyed the scenic route, and I enjoyed him and the phone calls. I hadn’t got any phone calls from him in years. He was always working.

©Aileen McGee


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