One of the marks of a good (x) is the ability to improvise — or find unexpected value — when things unfold in a different way than what is anticipated. Fill in your own word: chef, carpenter, sailor, writer, reader…

Driver. Passenger.

When you’re a passenger with someone and they take a different route to your shared destination than the one you would have taken, do you object? Do you spend the time arguing — even if only in your head — that your way would have been better? I suppose if you’re paying for the ride, and getting gouged by the alternate route, then, sure, object. But otherwise, why not look out the window and enjoy the unexpected scenery?

My friend Adrian used to drive for a shuttle service that carried people from their homes to Los Angeles International Airport. Adrian knew the surface streets of his city, knew what time a certain thoroughfare would likely offer smooth sailing, knew how to get from point A to point B like nobody’s business. His passengers paid a flat rate for his service, so there was no benefit to him in taking a longer route than necessary. And he never did.

He liked to tell the story of a passenger who commented warily, after travelling along several unexpected streets, how they’d never gone to the airport this way.

“Ma’am,” he said. “The only one in this van who needs to know how to get to the airport is me.”

If you’re always in the driver’s seat, it’s okay to relax and let someone else do the job for a change. Let them improvise, let them show you things. Let the world show you things. You can take delight in seeing something unanticipated, instead of umbrage that you got where you were going a different way than you’d planned.


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