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:

Look for new posts each Sunday about my experiences and interactions through the Pacific Northwest.

What say you?