Thoughts from the Road
10 days. 4400 miles.
We left Arizona at 4am on a Thursday, and spent each day in a new city, only stopping to sleep in a strange new place. We stayed the longest in Portland, a total of two days, while only remaining an average of four hours in every other city. A lot happened in those 10 days. Mostly, I had a lot of time to think. Leaving your bubble, the place where you have a routine, friends, repetitive driving patterns, and the same bed every night is amazing. Breaking monotony and routine seems to stretch out the fabric of time, making each minute seem fresh and new. Days are longer and filled with adventure, and yet the weeks are short and flee your grip as soon as you try to hold onto them tighter before they end.
There’s something powerful about seeing the world outside of your neighborhood. People live life every day in a setting that is remarkably different than our own. Seeing these other places and cultures at work is fascinating. It’s so funny how all these clusters of buildings and bridges between the wilderness are centered around the same thing: people. Also, humanity in all its different appearances is remarkably similar. We all desire the same things. Fulfillment, purpose, happiness, and comfort are the things we strive to create for ourselves and our loved ones. The context and setting is different in every one of the places I visited, but the root desire is still the same.
The problems are the same too. We are all a bit selfish, self-absorbed, hurt, and broken. We all have a bit of baggage. We’re all screaming silently in our souls for intimacy, compassion, and the warmth of love. Yet how many of us withhold acting on those desires out of fear? It’s interesting to observe the things people think go in the slot for that desire. The things we idolize. We’re shoving a bunch of circles and triangles in a square hole, and yelling at the idiot who’s trying the same thing with a trapezoid.
We cram into small quarters with smelly dumpsters, loud traffic, and long lines for comfort, closeness, and culture. Then we complain about it being crowded, and how everybody is rude. Then we move into the country, the open planes, peaceful, beautiful, and wild. But then we complain about being too distant.
I find it funny because as we would drive through the country I quickly realized which side I was on, I found myself wondering how anyone could live out there where there’s no culture and no civilization. But I know they wonder how we could live without the quietness of the country, and with all the smelly homeless people, rude drivers, and crammed lines at the supermarket. We both probably see each other as the idiot with the trapezoid.
I still wonder, however, if people only move into quiet, desolate places after experiencing the heartbreaking reality of life. I wonder if it’s a defense mechanism for failure, for not living into your wildest dreams. Or maybe some people genuinely want that life.
I think I see myself doing something along those lines as a sign of defeat if being a pastor or a writer doesn’t work out. It would be depressing. Or maybe I’d move into the heart of a city to keep my mind off of my failures and immerse myself in busyness, long lines, and complaints about the smelly sewers and alleys. Maybe we’re all the idiot with the trapezoid because we’re all trying to run from the world that hurt us, or immerse ourself in the thick of it to forget what it’s done.
I’d hope that I’d deal with my problems, grieve over failure, and then keep moving along instead.
Either way, this trip has definitely shown me that there is no time to waste when it comes to living life and following your passions. Too often we get buckled down by what ‘we ought to do’, and forget to be who we are and do what we are good at and what we want to do. I ‘ought to’ have saved the money I spent, even though we traveled frugally. I ‘ought to’ have applied for internships, looked at grad school, or taken summer school.
I’m so glad I didn’t. I’m so glad I took ten days to adventure. I met interesting people along the way, and created memories that I’ll forever cherish. If nothing else, I’ve come to know there’s a place for me somewhere in this world. Hopefully, I’ll experience a few before settling down.