As I was returning from my Pacific Northwest excursion last week, driving the hundreds of hundreds of miles back through Montana and North Dakota, I found myself eager to get back home.
This is a reasonable sentiment.
Anticipation of lands unknown had since evaporated. I had already traveled these very highways on my way to the west coast. “Nothing new to take in here,” I thought as I drove by eastern Montana’s picturesque plateaus.
In addition, I was looking forward to getting home so I could “check out”—slouch on the couch, stare at a screen. This, too, might be reasonable. After all, in my rear view mirror had been a long and exhausting exploration and interaction with this corner of the world.
All in all, though, I lacked the presence of mind to enjoy my surroundings as well as the foresight & excitement of what was to come—quite the contrast to how I had felt three weeks earlier.
Though this particular journey was wrapping up, I realized while taking a second look at those magnificent plateaus that I was falling into a trap. By rigidly defining this journey’s partition of my life, I was missing out on its conclusion AND forgetting that just because this adventure was ending, it doesn’t mean the adventure ends.
Indeed, in the weeks to come I get to share all the efforts collected on my travel. I also get to springboard from this experience to something new.
This travel, itself, was evidence of how life unfolds in unexpected and wonderful ways:
–Asking a woman exiting her car if she needed a hand with all of her bags led to an interview with a cosmetics entrepreneur.
–Asking a man in a McDonald’s in the booth next to mine what city we were in, led to a conversation with him and his son about their life in North Dakota.
–Being stopped by a sidewalk activist in Seattle led to a conversation with a former Big Ten football player about the perks of being a college athlete and about the state of America’s homelessness—his current professional field.\
–Finally, stunning Montana scenery stopping my car in its tracks, and me being curious about the dwellers of this countryside, had a Mennonite family answer the door, who later provided lodging as well as an education about their way of life.
Travel magnifies life’s tendency to provide rich, growth-inducing experiences. Life back home may not be so free-wheeling. We may not ordinarily meet so many people, or go to so many places, within such a short period of time. Yet in our home lives, there is the excitement and development of the bigger things: family, career, clubs, projects. Your child grows up, and you have the opportunity to coach his/her baseball team. Your spouse gets a job offer across the country. You fall in love with a colleague you’ve known for 18 months.
I realized while driving home that such journeys as the one wrapping up are microcosms of how life develops, a trailer for the movie that is our life.
Current Mrs. Minnesota-America, Andrea Bennett Xiong once said that when she returns from a work trip or finishes a project, she likes to say to herself, “Next!”
Mrs. Andrea Bennett Xiong always keeps her eyes open for the next opportunity. She anticipates them.
I corrected my vision on my drive home, enjoying once again those stunning, sun-splashed plateaus.
I hope you anticipate the opportunities in life, as well as enjoy each step along the way.
It’s great to be home. Thank you for being with me while I was away.
This post was based off of my weekly email to family, friends, and readers. If you’d like to join The Periphery email group, please email me: email@example.com
Look for new posts each Sunday about my experiences and interactions through the Pacific Northwest.