There is something about a road trip that lifts my spirits. Even if it’s to a location I’ve already been many times, the journey provides a different landscape along the way. It feels like a microcosm of daily life and an affirmation of the popular adage: It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
My Mustang was fueled, Spotify playlist queued, and cruise control set as I slipped on my sunglasses and merged onto I-95 north. Everything about my planned 8-hour journey was occurring exactly as I had hoped. The weather was gorgeous. The traffic was sparse. The highway was smooth and my mind was in a parallel and peaceful place. Until.
Google is a wonderfully helpful entity, especially while navigating from one location to another. She keeps me apprised of speed traps, road blocks, and unwanted traffic situations. When directed to take an alternate route in order to avoid congestion, I willingly complied. And then, like some sadistic twist of fate, brake lights ahead of me brought my vehicle to a standstill. In hindsight, it made me wonder whether everyone else had blindly followed Google’s directives, creating a new traffic jam by avoiding the first one.
I must admit, I became quite frustrated. This was not what I anticipated, nor was it what I wanted. My only desire was to continue moving interruption free from point A to point B. To cruise along listening to my eclectic mix of country, rock, and soulful pop.
It wasn’t until my car (and my thoughts) arrived at a standstill that I came to appreciate an important truth. Sometimes it’s necessary to stop. Maybe not to smell the roses, necessarily, but to pause and think. To appreciate what surrounds you, even when it’s not what you expect. Maybe because it’s not what you expect. There are small messages everywhere, some of which don’t make themselves evident until we pause, and often not until some point later in the future.
Case in point, after my 8-hour trip turned into 10+ hours, I was less than two miles from my final destination. Google intervenes again, directing me along a back road that provides both a shorter distance and transit time.
As I turn right onto the new route, the swing bridge before me pivots to the open position as I come to yet another standstill. Instead of becoming frustrated, however, I simply chuckle. Crossing that bridge in due time (both physically and metaphorically), I whisper three words to myself.
Thank you, Google.
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