Sidetracked. We all know the meaning of the word.
And there's a very good chance that we all know what it feels like to
If we were a railroad car, being sidetracked could well mean sitting in
one place, abandoned, left to rust, and to be eventually sent to the
If we are a participant in
sports or other such endeavor, we would refer to being set aside as
having been "Sidelined." One who has been sidelined has been taken out
of the game and made to be a spectator.
In either case: sidelined or
side tracked, as described above, can be a hard place to find oneself,
and usually a place where the world goes by while we can do nothing but
sit and watch it as it passes.
For the past year I have been sidetracked. But I hadn't noticed it
until this morning. Although I knew I was off my primary course to some
degree, I had not realized how far I had ventured
off course, nor certainly how long I had been off
the main track.
Many things project themselves in this life and tries to grab our
attention. And in so doing, these many things tend to drag us down and
away, rather than toward the direction we wish to travel. In this
modern age especially our life is not our own, but rather it belongs to
any one and any thing desiring to make use of us at any moment. A
telephone rings, and we must answer it, and not
only answer, but remain on the phone talking about whatever that person
who calls wishes to talk about, and for the length of time they wish to
speak. A knock on the door finds Uncle Henry and his huge family who
has "decided" to spend a few weeks with you, and to allow you to feed
and entertain them.
Then there are daily issues
that grab us and keep us from the direction we know we should be going.
The newspaper is at the door and must be read. The TV ever blasting in
several rooms that demand to be watched. New products on the shelves
that are a "must have." Children ever-present at the ankles of mother
who tries to perform chores around the house.
Then there are the
occasional distractions like the long line of slow traffic, and the red
stop lights when a person is late for work. And the flat tire in the
middle of a busy freeway. And then the ticket one receives for not
moving far enough off the road to repair the tire, then discovering the
officer observed that you did not have your seatbelt buckled, that your
license had expired the day before, and that a tail light bulb was
Not everything that sidetracks us is negative. There are many things
that can come into our life that seem disastrous
at the time, but when it is past, it can be seen as a good thing. One
such occurrence is discovering that you have cancer. This is a terrible
and a fearsome thing to hear. Much fear and anxiety, and very probably
for a very long time, is experience. But once the tests and the
operation is over, the peace of mind that is the result makes it well
worth that time and effort.
Add to this the fact that
had you not been told that which you dreaded and
hated to hear; had you not had the tests that
brought about the bad news: then the peace of mind you would have
enjoyed by your ignorance would have eventually taken its tole.
Along with your having dealt
with your primary problem, that is, the cancer, you find you are eating
healthier, you are exercising, you have lost that weight you were so
concerned about, and you are feeling much better about yourself.
Good things can come out of
bad situations. Not all sidetracks have to be bad
There is yet another sidetrack that is not recognized as such because
of the enjoyment derived from it at the time. One example of such a
sidetrack is taking a vacation. The much-needed vacation that is
intended to rest your body and restore your soul, you discover when it
is over has zapped your zeal for the direction you have set for
yourself, and it has robbed you of your momentum you had worked so hard
to develop towards that goal. Along with these loses might very well be
that you have lost your physical ability to function as you had, which
will require much effort to restore.
Sometimes events and situations enter our life that does not take us off
our primary track as much as it draws our attention from the track and
from our goals. Rather than having our train of resolve set to the
side, it has merely slowed to a snail's pace while we explore the new,
and often exciting, thing that has lured us like a Siren of Greek lore
or a Celtic Will-O'-The-Wisp.
If one follows the lure for
too long a period of time, or ventures too far from one's goal and
purpose, then they will likely find themself shipwrecked on the rocks,
or snared in the bog of despair. Too long gone is likely to become too
But sidelines, regardless of how exciting and romantic they may be at
the time; or no matter how devastating they may appear at the time:
need be seen as failure to follow one's primary purpose and course.
A marriage failed, for
instance, although begun as a hopeful and joyful adventure, can be
latter seen as an education that allows us to move in a proper course
in the future. Time served in prison, or in the heat of battle, can be
turned into a strengthening experience rather than a dreadful loss, if
they are examined for the lessons and the strengthening elements they
People who have had the
worst of experiences, who have had to endure the most fearsome of
catastrophes are often the ones with the greatest of testimonies, and
the ones who appreciate life the most, and thereby are the happiest of
For the past year I have been sidetracked. It has been an exciting and
fantastic ride that has shown me a great deal about people I would have
never learned had I not had the privilege of being sidetracked. But
what is more important than what I learned about other people, is what
I learned about myself from the experience. I discovered that in areas
I felt a failure, that I had in fact acquired a mild degree of success.
And I discovered that some successes I perceived to have had achieved,
I still need much work.
Sidetracks need not be a side line. Sidetracks
can take us into unfashionable regions we would never have considered
exploring had we been offered such an opportunity rather than having
been thrust into it. Yet it's these side adventures, good and bad, that
rounds out our personality, and they teach us if we are indeed on the
right track, if we should alter our course, or they may confirm that
the direction we are pursuing is the correct one for us.
Sidelines can serve two purposes. Sidelines are the place where those
who desire to participate in the game are forced to remain, sulking and
feeling sorry for themselves. Sidelines are where those who fail to
live up to expectation vegetate and become even less
qualified to participate than they had been before the sideline.
But there are others on
sitting on the sidelines as well. Sidelines are where the spectators
sit who pay careful attention to every move the players make. Sidelines
are where those sit who have the best seats to view the game. Sidelines
are where the commentators sit and explain the game to those who are
not fortunate enough to have obtained a seat in the bleachers on the
Participants are only able see a very small portion of what is
occurring in the game. The pitcher in a baseball game only sees a
batter at home base. The center in a football game only sees the shoes
of a very large lineman standing before him. The front runner of a race
sees nothing whatsoever of the race, but can only imagine what is
happening behind him..
Participants in any event or
activity has but the poorest of understanding of what is really
happening in the event at large. The closer a person is to the game,
the less he sees of it.
Contrarily, the farther a
person is from the event, the more distant he is from his own life,
from the emotions and the attitudes that are inherent in one's life,
the better he can see the reality of himself and of his situation..
It is important that occasionally a person be taken out of the game,
set on the sidelines for a while so they can obtain a better view of
that in which they have chosen to participate, and to see more clearly
if they are living up to their own expectations.
Sidetracks and sidelines are a blessing for the wise, but a curse for
the self-centered and the unobservant.