WHENEVER POSSIBLE, 
TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE

    Here's a holiday story which has nothing to do with Christmas, or New Year's, and only a bit about the season. It's just a reminder, at least to me, about slowing down and enjoying life.
    It's a silly little story, but it's all I've got.
    Because I have a business interest in Monterey, I drive down there from my home in Marin or my office in San Francisco about once every six weeks or so. With no traffic, it takes me about two hours and 15 minutes, door to door.
   I've done it for 30 years, and I always go the same way. I take 280 to 85 through San Jose, 101 through Gilroy, and then 152 to the coast and Highway 1 for the last 12 miles. Boring, but it's the quickest route. Gotta get there as fast as I can.
   So when I left my house at 7 a.m. last week for a morning appointment in Monterey, I went into auto-drive. Never gave a thought to deviating from my route, at least until there was an accident on 280 and traffic backed up miserably.
   I was at the Pacifica exit, and I looked at it with trepidation. Highway 1 along the coast beckoned me as an alternative. But it was a two-lane road, with curves, and even with the traffic on 280, it would probably take longer.
   I hadn't taken Highway 1 down the coast for decades. Too slow. Couldn't waste time. Had to get there. Go, go, go.
   But I did this time, thanks to the fender bender. As soon as I crested the hill and looked down at the blue Pacific and the sleepy town of Pacifica, I quickly realized I might be on to something.
   It just got better and better. I'm not going to even attempt to describe our spectacular coastline, especially on a crisp, sunny morning. I could never do it justice. It's our backyard, and I, for one, ignored it for too long.
   Devil's Slide (with its new tunnel), Half Moon Bay (best name in the world), the tiny little town of Davenport, and then the virtual metropolis of Santa Cruz, with nothing in between those points except stunning vistas.
    I cruised along at 55 mph and loved every minute of it. No traffic, no trucks, no crazy drivers....nothing except the rolling countryside on the left and beaches and crashing surf on the right.
   I pulled into Monterey at 9:40. It took me two hours and 40 minutes, 25 minutes longer than my regular route (without traffic). All I could think about was how many ways I could, and did, waste 25 minutes in a day. This was clearly the way to do it.
   Like I said, a silly little story that may not resonate with anyone except me. I bring it up only because some of us might relate to slowing down this week.
    I love the time between Christmas and New Year's. Things slow down. There's not an urgency to get things done. After the stress and congestion of the days leading up to Christmas, the country takes a collective sigh of relief and winds down the year.
    According to a survey from a national employment firm, almost a third of office workers are taking off the week between Christmas and New Year's. It's almost become a national holiday, deserving of a catchy name.
    It's difficult to get anything done, because so many offices are closed. And that allows many of us, even if we're still working, to slow down and relax a bit.
   Obviously, this doesn't include everyone, or even a majority. Most will continue to work through this week, and nothing will change. I wish everyone could slow down for the week, but that's not going to happen.
   That's why it's nice to be able to find other ways to slow down. I have no idea what that might be for anyone else. For me, it was taking a drive that took an extra 25 minutes of my supposedly valuable time.
   Yes, time is valuable for all of us. But I had it all wrong. I thought getting to Monterey 25 minutes faster was using my time wisely. It turns out the wisest use of my time was getting to Monterey 25 minutes slower.
 

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