From The Road: The In-between Places

We started this journey thinking it would be a five-week adventure through the Western United States and its national parks and then a slower paced travel schedule through the Midwest.  That was the surface purpose of the trip.  Beneath the surface of this pilgrimage we are seeking to unlearn rhythms and habits that have produced anxiety, stress, misplaced priorities, burnout, and an unsustainable speed and breadth of living.  

However, the longer we've been on this pilgrimage, embracing liminality, we are not sure this adventure has a definite end in the near future.  The reason for this thought is a combination of things: being in nature and being apart of the interconnectedness within the natural environment; the close quarters with our kids; living into the values of our sponsor organizations; learning the stories of other pilgrims we meet on the road and the beauty of the in-between places. 

The in-between places may be the most unexpected value I've experienced.  The in-between places are the unplanned moments.  They are they places that actually distract you from the goal.  Places, rather metaphorical or physical, that are usually avoided in our world that is dedicated more to accomplishment than relationship.  Typically I would rush past them to my goal, and swear I would enjoy them later, but we all know how that works, we never go back.  But on this trip we have made it a value to stop and enjoy the in-between places even at the expense of the goal.  This really hit home with me when reading a passage from Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. 

P. 183...when you are no longer thinking ahead each footstep is no longer just a means to an end, but a unique event in itself.  This leaf has jagged edges.  This rock looks loose.  From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer.  These are things you should notice anyway.  To live only for some future goal is shallow.  It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life not the top, it's here where things grow

And this is true - our growth, joy, and life has come from the in-between places or, "sides of the mountains".  On this trip the in between places have been:

...While in Yosemite rather than spending most of our time in the Valley or El Captain, or Half Dome, sites everyone in the world should long to see, because they are breath taking, we got caught up in jumping across small rocks placed like dots in a connect-the-dots game in a wide creek...

...Glacier National is a park I've wanted to see and experience much of my adult life.  Seeing one of the last remaining glaciers left in the park was surreal.  Driving the Road to the Sun was breath-taking.  But the moment that breathed life into my soul was us rushing out of the park to make dinner before it got too cold, and one of the kids noticing a cliff we could dive off into glacier water.  We put our plans on hold, pulled over and I had the opportunity to dive in and swim with my kids in the coldest water I've ever been in.

...waking up at 5:30 am, pulling out my Cuvée coffee, GSI Java Mill, Jet Boil, and AeroPress and enjoying a fresh cup of coffee, worthy of being served in an upscale coffee shop, around a fire while watching early morning Ravens and humming birds and small forest creatures scurry about their environments

...choosing to pull over and watch a bear cub wrestle around in the flowers, gaze at a moose drinking from a stream, letting our son take in the wonder of an old bearded mountain goat, letting the kids build a dam in a river rather than staying committed to a planned route or schedule to see a particular site or chasing daylight to make dinner...

...the two couples we met in Napa - an older couple busy watching us because they loved the way we were with our kids, which motivated the husband to buy me a glass of wine, which ended up leading to some fun picture-taking, conversations, and learning each other's stories...

...slowing down to learn the stories of locals that we will never see again and will probably have no effect on our lives simply because they are people with real stories like ours

The truth is, the list could go on, but the point is, the best moments of this trip have been the in-between places, the moments that were unplanned...these small unplanned ordinary moments overshadowed the sights that constitute the extraordinary...and will be the moments that live on in our memories, the sights will simply be amazing backdrops to the unexpected moments.

I think this is one of the highest values of what it means to #LiveOrdinaryWell, learn to slow down and embrace the in-between places even at the sake of missing the "important" deadlines.  It's in the in-between places that we begin to truly know those we do life with, and it is in these places that we realize our interconnectedness and interdependence to the environment around us.  It's where real life is lived! It's where we create the life and stories that will out live us.  When the in-between places are embraced it's where ordinary is lived well! 

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