In the past week, I had the opportunity of making the 15 hour drive from Phoenix to my home in Colorado. Driving through the New Mexico Highlands and Southern Colorado in December can be sketchy due to weather, but I was a day or two ahead of the next snowstorm coming in, so was able to relax and enjoy the drive. The time was spent looking out that windshield snacking on Fudge-Striped cookies and Pringles, and drinking coffee. All the things that would earn me a look of disapproval had a certain wonderful, beautiful woman named Maureen been sitting in the cab with me.
The past 4 months have been filled with events, minor in the grand-scheme of things, but rather big in the moment; a sequence of events for Maureen and me which led to this current road trip…which inspired this blog…which will lead to……….who knows.
One thing I’ve learned about myself is this, I live life through the windshield with an occasional glance through the rearview mirror. It’s good sometimes to be reminded of where you’ve come from…but if you spend too much time staring at the regrets of your past, you’re liable to run into what’s right in front of you…or miss the exit to a future opportunity…or hit a squirrel darting across the road.
Years ago, I wrote an on-going letter to my two oldest kids who had recently moved out and were in that 20-something process of figuring life out (yeah…I know, there’s a 30-something, a 40-something, and a 50-something process as well…and some of you old farts will tell me the process is still going strong). The title I used for this on-going letter had something to do with “Roadtrips” because that is exactly what we’re on in this life we’ve been given.
So, here I am on the 50-something stretch of this highway called “Life”. I’m passing through the region called Midlife Crisis and have no interest in exiting off there! I do see a lot of advertisements for Corvettes and hair transplants here…but I’m too fat to fit in a Vette, and I don’t want the payments…and the hair transplant-thing……I’ll just keep moving along…we’ll put “Midlife Crisis” in the rearview mirror real quick.
You know those stretches in the highway where you come up over a hill and see out ahead 5, 6, or 7 miles; those places ahead of you where the highway disappears over a smaller hill and then reappears out even further until it disappears altogether at the horizon? Well, this may sound odd, but when I’m driving along, I wonder what I’m going to see when I get to that stretch of the highway on the horizon. Remember, I was traveling alone…what else was there to do….where are those fudge-striped cookies? Focus Gordon!
Now, think about our life along that same concept. As we look out ahead on this road we’re traveling, there are things like retirement, or perhaps next chapters we want to see written, and we can only wonder what life will look like when we get to that point on the horizon. Will we be blown away with excitement? Will we be disappointed? Or will it just be more highway?
Think about of the image of the windshield above…the rearview mirror is there, but it’s designed to take up only a small portion, off to the right side of our view…it was never designed to dominate the view of what’s out in front of us.
As I traveled eastbound on I-40 in eastern Arizona, there was such a sense of excitement that had absolutely nothing to do with the thought of seeing the flatbed Ford while standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, and it had nothing to do with thoughts of all the miles I still had left to travel on this trip. That excitement was present because of the freedom that comes with being out on the road, the adventure of seeing what’s around the next corner; what’s over the next hill. Life is meant to be lived; experiences embraced; dreams pursued.
West of Deming
Don’t get me wrong, my thoughts of the highway aren’t always filled with romantic imagery. One Thanksgiving holiday in the early 2000’s, my wife, daughter, and I were stranded about 25 miles west of Deming, NM. We had no cellphone service (uhhh, Verizon, apparently they couldn’t hear me then…), and semi-truck drivers flew by honking their horns. We were desperately needing help. To avoid exaggerating, I will refrain from trying to quantify how long we waited…but I’ll just say I wondered if I would die first. Okay….I exaggerated.
Here’s the point: the highway is filled with adventure when you’re going someplace you’re excited about, but it’s not exciting at all, and in fact, can feel rather desperate, when you’re stuck and see yourself getting nowhere.
Isn’t that kind of like life too?
GPS of Your Heart?
Where’s your GPS leading you? Have you even paid attention to it lately? What are the yearnings held within the depth of your soul whispering to you? Will you listen to them or will you reason with them for why they aren’t practical…logical…sensible…? Will you be content living with a destination conceived in your brain over one conceived in the belly of your soul that makes your heart beat with passion?
Compromise sucks! Especially when you’re in the snack aisle with your wife getting ready for a roadtrip. Apples? Really? Show me the Fudge-Striped cookies baby! Okay, maybe that had nothing to do with what I’m attempting to convey, but in a way, maybe it does. Why settle for “Good-Enough” when “Amazing” is somewhere out there down the highway? Okay, those cookies aren’t amazing…but in those moments, standing there in the snack aisle, my heart is crying out that they certainly are amazing!
I’m amazed at the lesson my dad taught me from his death bed that June day over 5 years ago. It came up again this morning while having coffee with my daughter. Dad taught me how to accelerate through the finish line of this roadtrip called Life. He wasn’t braking and he wasn’t swerving to avoid it…he had the accelerator buried. He was ready! He was a man with no regrets and a gentle smile on his face…he was living life looking out the windshield…he had no use for the rearview mirror in those moments. He had such a certainty of what laid beyond that exit called Death…and it’s only because he accepted the gift given to him by his Savior.
Now that’s the roadtrip I want for what’s left of my journey here on this planet!