A curved line of traffic barrels where one is converted to a seat.

The Value Of A Detour

I got caught driving in the recent hurricane. Pounding rain. Flash floods. High winds. Trucks dumping so much water on my windshield I could not see at all. At a few points, I had to do a full stop on the highway, which can be very dangerous, particularly when there is no one in front of you.

I had an important appointment, so I was trying to drive through it. I refused to stop—even when the lanes narrowed in a construction zone. Eventually, It got so bad I had to pull off and wait in a Wendy's parking lot for a few hours.

Pushing ahead with Crohn's disease

Why do I mention it? Well, for one, because with Crohn's disease, sometimes we want to keep plowing ahead no matter. We figure we really ought to make progress and persevere over any obstacles.

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We simply will not let anything stand in our way. This makes sense. It’s sort of an embodiment, even, of the Horatio Alger spirit, a spirit that is quintessentially American.

You see this same can-do-spirit in sports. Coaches tell athletes “fight through the pain.” Nike suggests we “Just Do It.” Self-help gurus teach us to set the bar high and never stop fighting.

Sometimes we need to rest and take a break

While persevering through various obstacles is generally positive, it's not always the best course of action. This is particularly the case for those with IBD. Sometimes, we need a detour, a pause, a rest in a cul-de-sac.

Just like when I was driving in that hurricane, with Crohn's disease our lives are frequently in danger. Health risks come with the territory. We thus can, at times, travel farther and reach higher if we take breaks, give ourselves some space, and go easy on ourselves. Just because the path isn't as direct doesn't mean it's not the best one for us.

Progress is not always getting ahead

This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. I like to go barreling ahead in my career and personal life. As we get older, we all want to feel we’re making progress.

But getting ahead is not always what’s needed. Real progress is sometimes in understanding what is most important; in waiting, in lack of action, in self-care, and turning away from goals until we’re ready to tackle them.

Putting health first

My thirty-year struggle with Crohn's disease—and other obstacles over the past few years—such as getting hit by a car and coping with coronavirus—have further taught me that health should come first. Structuring our lives any other way puts all of us—particularly Crohn’s sufferers—in grave danger.

I've learned it is okay to give myself some space. In fact, this may ultimately enable one to develop greater wisdom and self-acceptance. The added time required to achieve my goals, too, can make them seem more valuable when they do occur.

In conclusion, nothing is lost by taking a break. Or, at least, not as much as can often be gained. Appreciate the detour. Befriend it. Be grateful for it. Thanks for reading, and, as always, I look forward to your comments below.

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