When I was in fourth grade, my family moved across town to be closer to the restaurant we owned. My new elementary school was only about a mile from our home so I walked home everyday. Soon, I made friends who lived near me and they told me about their super-secret shortcut.
The shortcut that they told me about involved climbing through a downed fence in the back of the school, taking multiple switchbacks through ice plant and strangers’ backyards, and it ended at an intersection 3 blocks from my house. In all, it probably doubled the amount of walking. We took this shortcut everyday.
To our group of friends, it felt like a shortcut. It was more fun. It didn’t matter if we got home later or picked up a few scars on the way there, we genuinely thought it was a more effective way of getting home because we weren’t just walking on concrete and asphalt. There was a sense of adventure.
Sometimes, the shortcut isn’t really a shortcut. Sometimes, it’s not about the destination, but about the journey there. When it comes to long, difficult paths to things like success, justice, and love, it’s the journey that matters. We don’t need a shortcut, we need a new frame of mind that embraces exploration, bringing others along, and knowing that the reward is in the adventure itself.
Tough times tempt us with compromises that will reduce the pain but don’t actually solve deeper issues. We should always begin with the destination in mind, think about the kinds of steps that we’d like to take to get us there, and how we can invite more people to get us there. Those are the shortcuts worth taking.
One year after walking home in elementary school, we all got bikes. Then, we found new shortcuts to get us home.