Appreciate Wrong-Way Turns on the Road of Life

(The masters of the French Impressionist school knew the whole was always waaaayyy more than the sum of its parts. In fact, mostly, the individual parts made no sense, until they all came together. Then, the painting became a work of art.)

I spent many years of my life in what I’d regard later as empty pursuits, going after things and people I’d have been better off ignoring. At the time, I thought they didn’t enrich or deepen my life experience, in any way, shape, or form.

But I was wrong.

In earlier years, we proceed at our own pace, unaware of where we’re going. We simply “do life.” We finish school (hopefully), become adults, marry and have children. Those years are a vast blur as we merely try to keep up with demands. We haven’t the time to consider whether we’re really happy in life, and we’re probably better off this way.

As we age, we get more reflective. And here’s what we learn: Some of the friends we thought we had bitterly disappoint, and we decide to cut them loose….finally. We tired of their blasé attitude regarding our efforts. In short, they never appreciated us or the things we did on their behalf.

Perhaps they’re unforgiving.

In our older wisdom, we realize they’re atrophied characters who suffer terminal self-absorption. They cannot forgive a transgression they view as all-encompassing, when it most probably came about due to human error. They hold others to a strict code, though they cut themselves serious slack when they offend.

Or maybe they never even consider the possibility they‘re guilty of their own transgressions.

Other friends loom on the horizon, showing us depth we never knew. They’re the stalwart souls who are there when we need, in that moment of anguish, sometimes for whole swatches of time. They impress particularly because we never gave them the opportunity to shine, focused as we were on others. They’re the diamonds in the rough.

Now, what’s the message in all this?

Fear not the time you spend in traveling down different roads, some of which you’ll determine are dead-ends, or blighted destinations, for the wrong turns allow us to see the right way. They point the way by contrast.

One dates many people to know what mate he or she wants, and we all learn, too, from the bad jobs we’ve had. From those, we determine:  It’s never merely about the money but rather the quality of work that makes for satisfaction.

I’ve told many young people: “There are no wasted experiences.” Each–no matter how seemingly insignificant– fits into the tapestry of your life as constructive or destructive force, and both are necessary to the development of “You.”

So, stop stressing that you’ve wasted time on bad jobs or self-centered people. They’re all pieces of the mosaic that ultimately define you. The more varied the pattern, the richer you become, made as you’ll be of the various hues and textures, fitted together to form a work of art.

French Impressionists like Monet, Degas, Picasso, or Renoir knew that individual pieces of a painting made no sense by themselves. It was only in looking at the painting, in its totality, that it made sense. Then, the image came together as a cohesive whole.

In the end, it’s the rough road… the poor friends… the lousy relationships that challenge and propel a life adventurer onward and upward, enabling him or her to discover the richer possibilities this life has to offer.

Now, weigh in:  Did your bad jobs and lousy friends help define you ultimately? (It’s OK if you’re still there but learning).  Have you changed the way you view friends? Have you lost what you thought was a good friend due to a silly misunderstanding?

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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