As the weather starts to turn chilly, and talk turns to forecasts of frost and the winter to come, it again calls to mind the old joke about there being two seasons in Minnesota: winter and road construction. And since this past summer’s construction season was especially brutal, the coming winter may be more welcome than usual.

I’ve been as vocal as everyone else in complaining about the heavier-than-normal road construction this summer, and the delays and disruptions it’s caused. On more than one occasion, I’ve taken alternate routes to places I was going – because I knew my normal route was under construction – only to discover there were new road closures on the alternate routes, and detours that took me back to the road I was trying to avoid in the first place. There were also a few times when I was late to meetings because the extra time I allowed for getting there wasn’t enough, or because following the detour signs had me driving around in circles. Once, I got so turned around while driving to meet a friend that I ended up almost back at my own house before I figured out exactly where I was.

It’s now occurring to me, however, that while I’ve been grumbling and complaining about the detours  and disruptions we’ve all had to deal with over the past few months, there’s something I was forgetting about: how nice it’s going to be when it’s all done.

Granted, some of the projects are extensive and will continue on for a year or more. But a few of them are complete now, and it’s a dream to be driving on the freshly-paved, newly-expanded roads – especially after all the bumps and twists and turns of the roads while they were being resurfaced or rerouted. If I had spent more time anticipating how wonderful the new roads would be, instead of how dismal and inconvenient they were while the work was being done, it probably would have made the detours and delays more tolerable.

Something else that now occurs to me is how much of life is like this. When we’re experiencing a major change, we often focus on the difficulty and discomfort we’re going through at the moment, rather than how much better and more enjoyable our lives will be once the “construction” is complete. And it doesn’t matter whether we’ve initiated the change ourselves, or they are “repairs and upgrades” due to wear and tear or other circumstances beyond our control.

So the next change that’s warranted is a change in my attitude. Instead of complaining about roads that are still under construction, I can be grateful for the smooth sailing I will experience when they’re complete. Instead of dreading the coming of winter, I can marvel at the beautiful fall colors, and think ahead to next spring, when everything will start to bloom again. And instead of stressing over half-finished projects and a lengthy to-do list, I can anticipate the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment I’ll feel when they’re done.

I know this will help smooth out the bumps in the road I’ll inevitably experience. And allow me to enjoy the scenery along the way.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on October 15, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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