The road can be good for clearing the mind and I am no stranger to taking a drive…..short or long. However, heading west from St. Louis yesterday, I didn’t feel the freedom and sense of adventure that often comes from travel. Music didn’t move me as much in the car, either. I’m not sure why, but maybe it’s because I was sick with COVID just a couple of weeks ago and not quite my full self yet. Or, maybe it’s because this will the longest distance I’ve traveled thus far with my small camper in tow and it’s a little scary.
Whatever the case, I woke up in Colorado today and it’s a beautiful world here, sitting outside on the deck at my cousin-in-law’s house. Grassy hills, pine trees, and a most perfect breeze make it a great spot to do nothing. I’m cherishing this, actually….the lack of doing. The coming days will be busy enough with driving and seeing sites. Writing too….if all goes well.
In fact, I have a new direction in mind for my words. It hasn’t escaped my attention that I’ve been a bit “stuck” lately when it comes to subject matter. Not really an issue as I’ve seen it because we all move through different moments and periods in our lives where we are experiencing and thinking about one thing or another. Nevertheless, I’d like to move away from past posts and explore other potentially mundane material…..like what a particular campground is like in the wee hours of the morning or how I was in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota when a woman hopped out of her truck at a roadside attraction and loudly exclaimed to no one in particular, “There’s a giant hole in the middle of this parking lot.”
A friend introduced me to a writer years ago who once spent a year traveling around the country in his van, writing about the people he met along the way. The writer’s name is William Least Heat-Moon and the title of the book is “Blue Highways.” I found myself thinking about this book again, recently, when another friend wrote to me about how the country’s smaller winding roads can amaze, but so many stick to major highways. I suppose I enjoyed the spirit of this book I mention, although the word “blue” in the title strikes me a bit differently now than it did years ago. Was blue just the color of the country’s smaller roads on the old highway maps as the author indicated in his first few pages? Or, was there some other significance? If memory serves correctly, the writer of this work set off alone in his van after his divorce and I have to wonder……does the title also allude to how lonely the road can be sometimes for those who wander? Does it hint at moments of melancholy or the feel of the road at twilight, just before a new day dawns?
And what if I were to take on a similar project? What if I took the few weeks I have now to travel and write about them or even write about all of my small trips over the past couple of years and the people I’ve met? Even a shorter work may be something to explore. Ever since my writing started taking a more personal turn, I’ve wanted to head more in this direction. Writing about lessons learned, in contrast, can be helpful…..but how much wisdom does the world actually need? Perhaps some of us are just a little too caught up in all of that….solving/overcoming life’s problems/challenges. At some point, we just may need to surrender to what “is” and just “be.”
Not that wisdom can’t happen in the moment, mind you. It most definitely can. But, maybe, it’s different because it’s unexpected and requires little to no work on our part other than to let go. And maybe this means it’s more intuitive, as well. Setting aside the intellect of the mind, our inner “knowing” is more easily heard, recognized, and acknowledged. And from there, it’s also more readily accepted and valued……once we remove the human brain from its pedestal.
So, who’s willing to go along with me for the ride? If I write every day as I venture to California for a drive up the Pacific Coast, will you stick around and see where this leads? I can’t promise it’s going to lead anywhere. In fact, it’s very likely that this post you’re reading right now might not lead anywhere.
And yet, I suppose it’s also just as possible that it’s the start of something great.
Yes, I believe that’s it. That’s the beauty of each and every moment. They all can be the start of something great. Who are we to ever look forward and say they aren’t….or look back and say that they weren’t?