I am on the TABS Board and our summer meeting is at their office in Ashville North Carolina. The last two times I have been to Ashville, my flights have been delayed. Those of you who read my blogs know that I get pretty stressed when dealing with delayed flights in airports, particularly in the USA, so I figured a 12 hour drive would be quicker than a day of waiting for flights. Then I had a good idea – our family should do a road trip.
I love road trips. As a kid, I remember this would be the only time my parents would let us buy candy. And we would work hard at that decision-making process and fight over who had more and what was left and when. I doubt it lasted much longer than it took to get to the end of the block, but it was still an important part of the trip. And then we would get in the car and I would do what I do best – sleep. I can sleep anytime anywhere, and I consider this gift my greatest talent. And all thanks to the many times our parents packed us into the car and drove. (My Mom would add that a car ride was often the only time she and my Dad could speak privately with all of us sleeping in the back.)
I wanted my kids to have the same experience of hours in the car. For six years, we packed them up in Montreal and drove to PEI. But it had been a while since we hit the road, and the kids were up for it. Their planning didn’t involve candy from the 7-11, it involved a trip to iTunes for songs, movies, and episodes of Modern Family. Kevin and I got in to the spirit – I chose The Great Gatsby and he chose Tig Notaro’s Live. Our preparation was pretty standard – including the blow up that happens like clock-work. Doesn’t every family have a big fight while packing up the car? In our case, as the rest of us worked, one family member was discovered on an iPod.
But then comes the beauty of the trip. (Okay first comes the stop to Tim Horton’s, but then comes the beauty of the trip). Nothing to do but drive.
If you’re like me, there is no shortage of stuff to do. I multi-task. I cram my days. I make lists, sometimes I add things to the list that I already did just to see that I can cross it off my list and feel even more productive. Life is go go go. And, for the most part, I love it. I like that work is productive and our evenings and weekends are full. I pride myself on getting a lot done. We are a busy, happy, modern family.
But there is pleasure in stopping. There is pleasure in getting in to the car and remaining in that space. Sometimes when I pull into our driveway after school, I turn and talk to the kids before we get out of the car … something about that space makes it feel intimate or something. Sometimes if I am alone in the car and on the phone, I also sit in the driveway to finish the conversation. Again, that space is small and comfortable. Kevin once brought me a glass of wine as I sat in the car in the driveway on the phone. (Not to worry – he took the keys in exchange for the wine.)
So I like hours and hours in the car. I like the views – the rolling hills, the open spaces, the other drivers – and I like spotting deer. I really like that the only decisions to be made are what to listen to and where to stop. It takes a while to get into that zone, when the coffee has run out and you hit that stretch of road where you don’t even need to think about turns. So you sit, look, and listen. That’s it.
There are so few opportunities to live fully in the moment. But it is a gift.
May your summer be full of them.
p.s. Thank you to Kevin who made this trip especially pleasant by driving 20 of the 24 hours.