The Journey Ahead

It’s Tuesday evening. I’m nearly all packed. I leave Thursday morning.

I’m quite sure I’ve packed some things I will not need.

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I’m equally sure that I have not packed some things that I will desperately be looking for down the road.

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Speaking of things I will miss, I have never been away from my family for this amount of time. That is one part of the trip I am not looking forward to. Even on short rides, when I see a great sunset, or find a unique store, it never fails that my next thought is about the thrill of sharing it as soon as possible with my wife or my daughters. I love riding two up with them around North Georgia.

A few years ago my oldest daughter and I escaped on an overnight ride to Cherokee North Carolina. I think the highlight for her was receiving permission to be escorted as an underage guest across the floor of a casino so we could get to a restaurant. I will miss her when I see any interesting animal big or small. She is, and has always been, in tune with the natural world in a way few will ever experience.

I will miss my youngest daughter when I meet interesting people and when I see things I can’t fully comprehend. She’s an incredible impressionist, and a dedicated student of humanity. She also is fully in awe of the soaring joy of a mountain rising up beyond a glacier lake.

I will miss my wife constantly. She helps me in everything I do, think, and feel.

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Even though I know how much I will want to turn and around and ask, “Did you see that?!”, hundreds of times along the way, I also have to admit that I’m looking forward to the time alone. There’s a huge aspect of this adventure that is about me taking time just for me. I’ve spent 51 years orbiting the sun. During those trips there have been a lot of different roles that have defined my responsibilities, my perceptions, and my relationships. Moving through them has been it’s own adventure; confusing and thrilling at the same time. It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to stop my everyday life and try to get some distance so I can examine the bigger picture. I need to unwind the big giant hairball a bit and make sure I’m still in the right orbit.

Someone joked the other day that I’m going on a vision quest. Maybe I am. I don’t think I’m going to come back with knowledge of my spirit animal, but I do believe I’m going to seek God with an intensity and focus that is embarrassingly distant most of my days.

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Counting the Cost

I just read that before going on a road trip you should pack everything you’re going to take the night before, then unpack it all, and throw away 25% of it.

I’m not sure about the percentage, but based on my hiking and camping experience – it’s not far from being on target. If I’m honest (and I’m trying) I’d have to admit that the same thing that thrills me about a long road trip is the same thing that strikes a chord of fear for me. The same wish for the freedom of an open road where the only agenda is to keep rolling wherever the moment takes me is the exact same thought that makes me wonder if EVERYTHING is going to be okay.

Okay, let me have a conversation with myself that I’ve already had a few hundred times. You can listen in. We don’t mind.

Um, Self. Can you…Can you stop looking at WebMD for a minute?

SELF-Hmm?

It’s about the trip.

SELF-Oh, am I still going on that? Do you know how much that is going to cost? And I don’t mean just money. It’s time. And who knows where you’re going to stay, and how you’re going to feel, and what about work? And our wife? What if she misses us? What if she doesn’t? What if you come back and they’ve replaced you with a robot or something?! I mean work, not your wife. Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.

I think you need to know that EVERYTHING is not going to be okay?

SELF-Shut up.

Now listen. Everything is NOT going to be okay for this trip.

SELF-It’s not?!!!!

Nope. There are going to be some things that will not go as planned.

SELF-So we’re cancelling? Oh thank goodness. I need a nap.

We’re not cancelling. We just have to face the fact that some things will not be ideal.

SELF-We have to plan some more! We have to take along a medicine chest. Where are my winter socks?

Hold it! It’s okay.

SELF-You just said it wasn’t!

No, I said things will go wrong, but that’s okay.

SELF-That’s like saying down is up.

No, it’s like saying the price of freedom and adventure might have to be paid with a little discomfort.

SELF-Oh, right.

So you see?

SELF-Yes! Discomfort.

Yes!

SELF-Aspirin. We forgot to pack the large Costco bottle.

I’m not listening to me, am I?