June 2010

Jerry Tyler

Blue Highways | by Jerry Tyler


Experiencing the Journey More Important than Getting There

As I roam the blue highways of the amazing landscape of our industry, I realized I have never explained my purpose in writing this column and how I came up with the heading, “Blue Highways.”

In the beauty industry, publications have many articles written to fit certain expectations and criteria. My purpose was to write something different or take the “road less traveled,” meaning the metaphysical rather than pragmatic approach to the challenges our industry has to offer and the rewards you might achieve.

After 37 years in this industry, the amazing abundance I feel I’ve achieved would not have come to me had I followed the usual course of action. Most beauty professionals choose a direct career path with an expected outcome.

I took the scenic route. The joy of the journey was more important to me than being there at the expected time of arrival.

When you look at a road map you will find many ways to get to the desired destination. The broad, bold, black lines are the most direct, paths. Take them and you move fast, bypass distractions and don’t get sidetracked.

People who follow those directions are just interested in getting there. Yet, I wonder how many times they have gotten to their destination not really knowing where they have been or how they got there?

Many people also follow this approach in their personal and professional lives. They live life in the fast lane on the super interstate. While this mode of travel may offer breathtaking scenery, the demands of driving at a high rate of speed leave little time to appreciate the view. A journey unrealized at the expense of destination. You travel life in straight lines from the point of departure to the point of arrival with little noticed in between.

Now let’s go back to life’s map and see the lines drawn in blue. These are the “Blue Highways,” the roads with the signs that say “scenic route.”

These are the original roads that linked individual communities with each other. Many linked the farms to the railhead where the produce went to market and brought the country to the city.

As they twist and turn in harmony with the original landscape, we are forced to slow down and take in what is all around us. The reward is a stop at the roadside farm stand where the fresh fruit somehow tastes sweeter, the lemonade a little colder.

The reward is also found at a historical site at some mile marker, telling the history of a special place or event. It is the ability to roll down the windows; smell the wild sage; wildflowers or orange blossoms; the scent of the freshly tilled earth that will soon reap an unknown harvest.

You are rewarded with the desert sunset, a journey from dusk to twilight with it’s deafening silence and beckoning invitation to a spacious world of no boundaries. As our senses are exposed to the sights, sounds and scents around us, we truly become one with where we are, right there, right then. In this place we are truly in the present, in the now. You are riding on life’s Blue Highways. Whenever possible this is my preferred method to travel.

In life we are all in transit, transitioning from one place to another, both personally and professionally. Whether along the highway or the byway, it is important to recognize that the road we choose to travel is, in most cases, a matter of personal choice and selection. Whether we realize it or not, no one puts us on that road except ourselves. Although people and experiences can point us in the right or wrong direction, we must decide whether to follow that path or road.

Sadly, on our travels, we will encounter people off to the side of life’s road. They may be broken down or lost. Do we take the time to help them to a safe place and give them directions to aid their journey to their desired destination? Or do we just pass them by? You can tell a lot about a person by the treatment they give their fellow travelers along the road.

Who we choose to travel with is also a point to consider. Are they “back seat drivers” or “front seat navigators” participating in the positive outcome of your mutual journey? Are they caring and sharing in the journey with all that entails? Or are they just in a hurry to get there, always asking us why we are driving so slowly?

Whichever road or highway you choose, enjoy the ride. Arrive safely and better for the experience you gained along the way. If you should by chance see me out there on life’s blue highways, don’t forget to smile and wave. After all, we are all on a journey together, no matter what or where our final destination is.

Jerry Tyler’s column Blue Highways is his “Road Less Traveled” perspective on the solutions and challenges facing the beauty industry. Jerry Tyler has been a stylist since 1975 serving as the former artistic director for Vidal Sassoon Academy and currently as Director of Education for Carlton Hair salons. He is also a licensed cosmetology instructor and has served as President of the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.