4. Take the Pretty Routes

This essay is part of my 42 Deep Thoughts project.

I used to always take the fastest route. Why wouldn’t I want to get to where I’m going quickly?

Then I started to take the scenic routes.

I discovered that an hour and a half route will only take 15 minutes more, but is 100 times more beautiful, and more pleasant to drive. There are fewer trucks, winding smaller roads, and horizons that go on forever. All it cost me was 15 minutes.

When I was working in midtown Manhattan I would get off the subway a stop early or late if I had the extra few minutes, just to walk a little further and enjoy the city. It made it easier to “get my steps in” and I got to enjoy Rockefeller, or Bryant Park, just a little more.

Even when you have a clear destination that you travel over regularly the journey itself still has value.

This is true with getting tasks done as well. If there’s a way to accomplish what you need that takes more time, but it’s more pleasant, go ahead and take longer and enjoy.

This isn’t always possible, but you’ll be surprised how often it is.

Life can be so long if you aren’t able to find pleasure in your daily routine. Finding the secret beauty around you is one way to add pleasure to your day.

I wrote about how Developers are Lazy. Part of that is that it’s more valuable to me to do something the more complicated way but learn from the process, and not have to do it again, than do a boring task over and over.

We live in a culture that is high-stress, and focuses on accomplishments.

Yet the things you remember when looking back tend to be the unexpected things you encounter.

You’ll never encounter the unexpected if you’re always laser focused on getting there as fast as you can. To find beauty in your life sometimes you need to go out of your way, invest time, and not get to where you’re going as fast as you had planned.

Another benefit of taking the pretty routes is that it gives you is a wider perspective of the world.

When we have a limited, incomplete, understanding of things we tend to be prone to prejudice.

Naturally we group our experiences and understandings into patterns that help us parse the world quickly. It would be exhausting if we had to parse everything we’re seeing every day, all the time, from scratch. Why do you think babies need so much sleep?

One aspect of this is the saying: “if all you have is a hammer you’ll treat everything like a nail.” If your experience of the world is through specific tools, or specific paths, you won’t have the capacity to imagine things differently. The more tools you have at your disposal, the better you’ll be able to approach any situation.

By expanding our experiences, by taking a scenic route, we expand our ability to to see things from different perspectives. This will lead to a richer, deeper life.

Taking the scenic route will make you better living.

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About the image: Overlooking Cassis