Surely everyone runs behind schedule at some time or other. It may be a few minutes or even a few days, but I seem to have a habit of running two decades behind. In the ‘90s, I missed the ‘70s so much I virtually recreated them by wearing out my VHS set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and listening to disco music ad nauseam. (And my then-teenaged daughter was completely ad nauseam-ed by my boogie-oogie-oogie!) Now that we’re well into the teens (or the teensies, if you prefer), I find myself longing for the ‘90s and I’m reverting to my old tricks, cueing up the ‘90s hit list on Spotify and watching reruns of Friends twice a day. (By the way, my nostalgia does not apply equally to all decades. With the exception of my daughter’s birth and those huge shoulder pads that helped balance out my big hips, there is just about nothing I care to recall from the ‘80s.)

The other night I was watching the Friends episode with Ross’s famous “couch pivot” scene where he, Rachel and Chandler try to wrestle a couch up the stairway.

I howled as Ross barked out his instructions for turning the corner, “Pivot, pivot, Pi-vaaaaahhht!” When I stopped laughing, it suddenly hit me that he was actually barking out some pretty good instructions for life as well. No matter how carefully we plan, no matter how much we anticipate progressing through life in a smooth, continuous line, it rarely plays out that way. Life seems to demand a fair amount of pivoting. At least, mine has thus far. Whether because of a baby, a cross-country move, an unanticipated divorce (and accompanying destitution) or a conscious choice, I’ve often had to make so many fast u-turns so close together that it seemed I was spinning more than pivoting. (Note to self—ask neurologist if this is how my positional vertigo started.)

A straight line may be the shortest—and often cheapest and easiest—distance between two points, but it may also be the least interesting. My circuitous route through life may have taken more time, money and patience than a straight shot would have, but for everything I think each bend in the road cost me, I gained so much in return—although many times I could appreciate the gains only in retrospect. If history is an accurate predictor of the future, I’m in for a few more twists and turns along the way. I don’t know where they will hit, but I know that when they do, I’ll be grateful that I’ve learned how to pivot right, left and about face if necessary. And should I ever find myself on a stairway with a cumbersome couch on my hands, I’ll know just what to do!

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