It's maddening how we crave many of the negative tendencies we should avoid. They are like drugs that we are trying to detox from, and no matter how far away we get from normal life, the cruel longings seem to creep up on us. I have found myself haunted by the need to "get things done"' "get there faster" and "be more perfect" - longings that make for a "fun" road trip, especially when four of the six participants are kids. I guess these are not so much bad things in and of themselves, but I'm kind of addicted to them like a bad drug, and other people suffer because of my insatiable need to function in these manners, especially when it is at the cost of other's feelings. If I'm being transparent, which I guess I am, then these are the addictions I am trying to undo in my life.
I have been searching for signs on this trip that resonate with me in this season of my life that may help me slow down and live in the now. This week, the they have been three fold:
The current state of our road trip - Dan, my coach, said, "during this trip, do your best to live into the metaphor of pilgrimage". Still trying to really grasp what that means, but I feel the southwest leg was a manifestation of the way we live life....rushing, rushing, rushing to the next thing. That's how we planned it, we wanted to get out of the heat, so we decided to power through till we hit California. But that leg of the trip mirrored our life - sure there were great stops, but we move too hard and too fast, and as on this trip, our bandwidth is consumed and we end up worn out. I hope and pray that the "metaphor" of moving slower through the next 3/4 of the trip contains within it practices we can apply to our real life as we move slower.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - if you haven't read this book, buy it now! There is a long quote on page 5, "It was some years ago that my wife and I and our friends first began to catch on to these roads (non-interstate, less popular, less traveled, less desirable roads). We took them once in a while for variety of reasons, and each time the scenery was grand and we left the road with a feeling of relaxation and enjoyment. We did this time after time before realizing what should have been obvious: these roads are truly different from the main ones. The whole pace of life and personality of the people who live along them are different. They're not going anywhere. They're not too busy to be courteous. The hereness and the nowness of things is something they know all about. It's the others, the ones who moved to the cities years ago and their lost offspring, who have all but forgotten it. The discovery was a real find. I've wondered why it took us so long to catch on. We saw it and yet we didn't see it. Or rather we were trained not to see it. Conned, perhaps? Conned into thinking that the real action was metropolitan and all this was just boring hinterland. It was a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, 'go away, I'm looking for truth!' And so it goes away." This passage resonates. What "roads" have I bought into that have caused me to miss the real life? On this trip, especially between Arizona (if you are coming from the South rim of the Grand Canyon) and Utah, there's about 300 miles of curvy back-road, single lane highway. For the 5 hours we were on this stretch we probably saw a total of 10 cars, no lights, and one billboard. It was the most beautiful stretch of highway I had been on up to this point. We had to drive very slow at some points just due to the curves, twists, and up-and-downs through mountains. But it was grand. The irony, is that had I known this road was what it was I never would have chosen it, it was due to a miscalculation, I would have avoided this road physically and metaphorically, but I'm glad I didn't. Sometimes, maybe the best thing we can do in life, is embrace the miscalculations, and enjoy the beauty that would have been missed had our efficiency succeeded. Don't get me wrong, at some points this road grew scary. Other points stressful, but only because it was so unknown to us. Overall, I'm glad we miscalculated.
This blog has some great stuff as well - especially points 5, 6, and 8
If there's anything I have learned from this southwest leg of the road trip, it's that much of what we are experiencing has so much correlation in real life. If the first week has taught me one thing, it's that the journey to live ordinary well seems to begin with an undoing of the ways we have created to live fast and efficient our urban lives and an embracing of miscalculations.