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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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Twists, Turns, and Detours

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Growing up it was exciting when on a weekend Dad would say, "Let's go riding around." In the days before environmental panic and guilt made needlessly driving a car verboten, the family piled into the old Ford and we took off with no destination in mind. My sister might yell, "Turn here!" and my Dad would. My mother would say, "That road looks interesting," and my Dad would make the turn, no questions asked, no hesitation.

We took twisting country roads simply because they looked intriguing and at stop signs we flipped a coin to decide which way to turn. The open road was freedom. We discovered new things as the miles clicked by, and I secretly relished the idea of getting lost. My imagination soared as old farmhouses, barns, windmills, and oil derricks whisked by my open window. Still today I enjoy taking unknown roads. To me a detour is exciting, not an annoyance. And I feel no guilt in exploration… I doubt my occasional wanderlust and a few gallons of gasoline will doom the planet.

My fascination with the unbeaten path and the road less traveled extends to many facets of my woodworking. A new way of joining two boards may prove better than the way I have done it before. A new tool is an opportunity to explore a new technique. A new furniture design might be beautiful or it might be a flop. Twists and turns… never boring, always exciting, and always the potential for new discovery.

Life is often quite like that unbeaten path, presenting us with twists and turns and the occasional fork in the road and a decision to make. Sometimes we can just cruise along with no real destination in mind. Sometimes we come upon a detour and are forced to take new roads… paths we never envisioned. We could get frustrated, but I never do. I would rather be excited and looking forward to the potential for a new discovery.

Over the past couple of months my life's road came to a fork, and we decided to take the less traveled path with the hope of excitement and discovery. Instead, though, we came upon a detour that abruptly wound us back to our original starting point. It was not an unpleasant trip, even though the new path would have been exciting. It happens that way, sometimes.

I may someday refer to these last couple of months as "the change that almost happened," "the path we almost took," or as "the lost months" of planning and anticipation that were all for naught. But I won't look back. I'll keep looking forward… there will be new roads and new forks and many twists and turns to come.

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