Peter and I just got back from a road trip to Florida. We had 3 beautiful days of 90 degree weather with my grandmother. We sweated and complained about the heat. It was wonderful.
Surrounding that time we had 8 days of full on driving. We made 6 overnight stops, got a $128 speeding ticket, and a cracked windshield.
Peter did 97% of the driving. My 3% was 2 hours in the wrong direction in Georgia, 3 days in the Florida neighborhood, and an hour and 15 minutes from Troy, NY to Dorset.
Peter likes to drive, or used to. I like to navigate, or used to. I had my notepads, book and knitting with me but enjoying those pleasant pastimes is unfair to the driver, unless you are on an airplane.
I felt it was important for me to have the same blurry eyes as Peter at the end of the day. Actually mine may have been worse because I had to keep peeking at the speedometer without moving my head.
The days of AAA trip-ticks are long gone, just as is the simple beltway around Washington, D.C.
I followed the directions diligently via my Ipad and her voice announcing up and coming exit ramps. (Funny she never said a word when I was headed towards Macon, GA rather than Jacksonville, FL. Maybe she didn’t think I would listen.)
The problem with navigating with Google Maps was not the fear that we would end up driving off a pier, more so that when she said 1300 miles to your destination, she wasn’t kidding. Your arrival time may vary by a few moments (unless you get pulled over) but the miles stay basically the same. There’s nothing you can do about it.
There were many moments when I thought this was the stupidest idea ever. I wondered how many times I had crossed and uncrossed my legs. How much longer did we have to listen to Classic Comedians and hits of the 1940’s? Who knew that NPR runs out of new stories?
I was caught in the present. Here, folded into a car that used to be comfortable.
There was nothing I could do but sit. I had no control over the situation, except imagine ditching the car and jumping on a plane.
I became resigned to our (my) predicament. That’s the first step when dealing with uncomfortable situations, accepting that that is what it is, uncomfortable.
The second step is choosing how to react. Admittedly, at first, I sighed a lot, then I made up better scenarios, “Let’s pretend we are just leaving the house and are going to Albany. Once we get there we will turn around and come home. We can have lunch. I’m in the mood for a hotdog, two actually. Then we’ll just drive back to Albany!” That was better than saying, “In 2 hours we will have 4 more hours to go.”
There are situations much worse than willing the time to go by on a road trip. My friend Katie McKenna got run over by a truck. She had no choice but to accept the passage of hours, days, weeks, months, if not years, in bed, before her body would heal itself and she’d be ready for a driving excursion.
We can control how our mind works but we can’t control the passage of time, just as we can’t control the sudden appearance of a police car or the trajectory of a flying pebble.
Often the idea of letting go, or giving up, brings negative connotations, like one is weak or helpless.
Maybe we need some new phrases to work with, like “Donate your control” or “Take a break from the driver’s seat.” (Of course that’s easy for me to say.) The point is, we all will eventually arrive at our destination points. Sometimes it’s just not a scenic route.
I must say I saw an awful lot of Golden Doodles and Labra-Doodles catching the wind from back seat windows on Route 95. Rumor has it that dogs have a different concept of time than we do. They are either with their humans or they aren’t.
On the next trip I’m going to pretend I’m a dog. “Yippee: Road Trip! We are all together, what fun!”, and leave it at that.
Namaste, buckle up, we’re taking the bumpy way!