It Means Something (Day #44)

Posted in: Thinking Big

I had an idea. One of the wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-can’t-go-back-to-sleep kind.

So last week, a reader emailed to ask if I’d heard Katherine Wolf’s story. “She is definitely embracing the detour,” the woman wrote of Katherine.

Her words struck me then and have stayed with me since.

Yes, I have heard Katherine’s story. You see, Katherine is one of my dearest friends. When she was rushed to the hospital two years ago because an AVM in her brain ruptured, causing a massive hemorrhagic stroke, I wasn’t far behind the ambulance. I was among the more than a hundred people who gathered at UCLA hospital to pray and wait as Katherine, a beautiful, vibrant 26-year-old woman with a 6-month-old baby boy, endured a 16 hour brain surgery. I’ve watched as Katherine has struggled through an extremely difficult healing and recovery. Two years later, she still has a long road ahead.

Hundreds of thousands of people know Katherine’s story.

I know Katherine.

I know the life she envisioned for herself, the life she had two years ago. I remember the path she was on and where we all thought she was headed.

We didn’t see the detour coming.

It came anyway.

Unlike having a baby or moving to a new city, a hemorrhagic stroke isn’t something you can ease into. You don’t get time to prepare or ramp up or get ready. It just happens. Life changes in an instant. And before you know it, nothing is the same.

Not even you.

I’m not sure I could have done what Katherine has done. What she’s still doing, every single day. Her faith has not wavered. Her will has not faltered. She has remained determined, optimistic and brave. “Somehow, I have been able to not let any prognosis define me,” she said today. “This stroke happened to the wrong girl.”

Her detour sucks. She’s embracing it anyway.

I have a propensity to overuse metaphors and a blog called embrace the detour. So this wasn’t the first time I’d thought of Katherine’s recovery as a detour. Consequently, when I read the words “she’s definitely embracing the detour,” my first reaction was just to nod and keep reading.

But then it hit me: this woman I do not know has just used the phrase “embracing the detour” as though it is a real phrase. As though it means something.

It is a real phrase. It does mean something.

I have a feeling that many of you are detour-takers. People who, for a myriad of reasons, have veered from an old path onto a new one. Life is different now. You’re still getting used to it. Adjusting. You’re trying to thrive here. Now.

It’s hard.

It might get harder.

It will (eventually) get easier.

Someday, you’ll “end up” somewhere. It might be the place you planned. It’ll probably be somewhere completely different. But in the meantime, you’re trying to enjoy the process of getting there. You’re trying to enjoy being right where you are.

You’re embracing the detour. Or trying to, the best you know how.

Which is why (and here’s where I segue to the waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-an-idea part) I think we need an Embrace the Detour Day. A day dedicated to the right here, right now. A day where we take our eyes off the Big Goal and celebrate what we’ve already accomplished. Not in some vague sense. Specifically. Intentionally. With delicious detail.

Next Monday is the halfway point for this project. Day #51. I’m almost to the halfway point and I’m nowhere close to being halfway finished with my novel. I want to believe that I will catch up, that I will get back on track, that I will finish this thing when I said I would so that I can celebrate with much champagne and clinking of glasses on Day #100.

It ain’t lookin’ good.

Thankfully, Day #51 also happens to be Embrace the Detour Day. A day that’s not about where we’re going, but where we already are. How far we’ve come.

So, between now and next Sunday night, I’m collecting detour stories. I want to know where you were and how you got to where you are now. What happened between Then and Now. Between There and Here. It doesn’t matter so much where you’re headed, because Embrace the Detour Day isn’t about getting to the someplace where you’ll eventually end up. It’s about celebrating where you are right now.

Send your detour story to lauren at embracingthedetour dot com (or just use the contact form on the righthand sidebar). Next Monday I’ll post the highlights (of course, if you want to share your story but would prefer that it remain private, just let me know!). Feel free to link here, or to celebrate Embrace the Detour Day on your own blog. As soon as I can figure out how to make my new Embrace the Detour Day button grabable, I will… in the meantime, here is the URL for the image in case you want to use it: http://embracingthedetour.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/ETDD_Button.jpg

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