Some of you will know that earlier this summer I went to Texas to visit my friends and family, my horses, and the wonderful place that will in many ways always be my home. [This was, of course, after I escaped the previously described time-dilation incident.] I planned on staying in Texas for two or three weeks, so I drove there. Now, the primary reason for driving was about my dog–I couldn’t stay for very long if I left her in a kennel here in Boston because of the expense, and I couldn’t put her in the cargo on a plane because it was already too hot (and I probably wouldn’t anyway, as long as there was another choice). That’s the practical, rational reason for driving.
The irrational reason for driving is that I’m a bit of an anxious flyer. Really, it’s not the flying that bothers me; it’s the potential for plummeting from the sky. I’m not panicky or anything, and I can definitely fly when I need to, but I don’t like it. Between the anxiety and the irritation at all of the ways that airlines find to nickle-and-dime us all these days, I find myself thinking that I’ll never fly again when I can help it pretty much every time I’m on a flight. Obviously, that’s not realistic, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking it. And there was something gratifying in being able to actually not fly.
But the best reasons for driving is the one that I found along the way.
Did you know that we live in an astoundingly beautiful world? That this country is full of places that are just lovely? It’s easy to forget when it all passes underneath you unseen. But as I drove through miles and miles of countryside filled with trees and fields and towns, I felt connected to the the places and inspired by the landscape. Even though I was hurtling through space at an average of 70 mph, the wonder of God’s creation washed over me in waves of green, and I began to think that traveling shouldn’t be only about the destination. The journey is also valuable, not wasted time. I kept thinking of this quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig:
We want to make good time, but for us now this is measured with the emphasis on “good” rather than on “time.”
It became my goal, also, to make good time, and I believe I did. One thing that made the time good for me was that it allowed me to clear my head of all the stress and worry of the semester and of life in general. There was nothing I needed to do, nothing I was procrastinating on, no deadlines hanging over my head. There was only one thing for me to do on my driving days, and that was to get a little ways down the road. For a perfectionist like me, having a single, achievable goal for a day is a mercy. I listened to music and an audiobook, I thought about things that didn’t matter and don’t remember, I enjoyed having my favorite puppy dog along for the ride, and I admired the scenery. And at the end of the day, and when I reached my destination, I was tired, but it was a good tired. It was a good trip. And even though I experienced some traffic-related delays and frustrations on my way back up here, I didn’t regret my choice to drive at all.