Road Trip Lessons

I just got back from a trip to my brother’s.  Saw my niece and her husband and her new baby, my nephew, and my brother and sister-in-law.  It was a great visit!  From my home to my brother’s home is about 850 miles. That is a long drive.

At the end of the drive on day one (about 500 miles) I decided I was not doing this again, it was just too stressful.  During that day I was in mid-morning traffic in Atlanta’s spaghetti junction with (at one point, six or seven lanes of traffic in one direction and all of them full), crossing moderately high bridges with 18-wheelers all around me (I like neither heights nor 18 wheelers), and the typical dilemma of not knowing whether my exit was to the right or to the left and all lanes being busy. I don’t deal with any of those situations.  I got to the hotel and thought, “This is the last time I am taking a long trip alone.”  That felt sad, closing my life in.  The anxiety that the ride created was not worth any payoff.

On day two I was on the same interstate, different State and different numbers but the same roads.  I was puttering along reasonably well when the lady on my GPS said “There are unexpected delays ahead.  You will save time if you take exit ABC.”  I took the exit.  I was then on Indiana State Road something or another.  There were farm homes and silos and corn fields (lots and lots of corn fields!).  And stop signs and little towns and big harvesters and general signs of life.  I could almost feel my blood pressure go down.  Eventually, I got back on Interstate and felt quite refreshed.  Day two was great.

I have known for a long time that I love to travel and see different parts of the country.  In Indiana and southern Illinois the land is flat and the corn and soybean fields go on forever.  No trees interrupt the skyline.  And there are wind farms with huge wind mills.  In all directions the flat ground just meets the sky and that makes the sky huge.  It was wonderful.

In one group of maybe 25 windmills (what do you call a group of windmills covering tens of acres?) all of them are slowly turning, doing their job of converting wind into electricity – except for two.  Those two just stood there unmoving.  It looked like a pair of rebellious two-year olds!  I could almost hear them.  “No! That wind is too hard!  I want softer wind!”  Or, “If he isn’t going to turn I’m not either – it isn’t fair!”

By the end of day two I was seeing a way to continue to travel – get off the interstate!  On the trip back, that is what I did.  Interstate in areas that I really wanted a good road – in the foothills/mountains and over rivers.  And state roads in other places to see what our beautiful country looks and feels like.

I started thinking about how similar that trip is to life.  We have these wonderful labor and time saving devices and they really do make life easier – mountain roads are not fun to drive and  mountains of dishes are not fun to wash.  But I slip into using all those devices all the time and that removes me from life.  I think using them selectively is a better choice for me.  If I use them sometimes and don’t others, I get to feel the difference.  I get to slow down and see things I would miss on the interstate or I get to feel the warm soapy water and the satisfaction of having the dishes clean and put up minutes after dinner.  And when I need those timesavers, I can choose to use them knowing that I have options.  With the interstate, that seems important to me.  I can step off the rat race treadmill and see corn harvested and geese flying or I can get where I am going in less time and put up with the stress of the 18 wheelers.  If it is a choice, it is less stressful – I chose to be there, the stress are not imposed on me.  For me, that leads to a different feel.

Having choices is a great thing and I need to remember to experience all of my options occasionally so that I remember that I have them and what they feel like.  Before this trip I felt trapped by the interstate system.  That was just my imagination.  I am relieved that my long-trip driving days are not over.  Wonder what trip is next?


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