Whenever I reflect on how people respond differently to the little curve-balls life throws at us, the word “journey” comes to mind. We’re all familiar with the phrase “stop and smell the roses,” but how often do we actually do that?
I laugh when I recall the trip I made with my mother & a very dear friend of ours to Hawai’i a few years ago. I had been saving for this trip for two years. My daughter had transferred to Hawai’i Pacific University to finish her BA, & I (being the self-sacrificing, supportive parent that I am) was determined to attend her graduation. Of course I wanted to experience all that I could, and see as much beauty as Oahu had to offer this poor tourist.
[I did have an amazing trip & enjoyed every minute!]
When we went to Diamond Head & began the long hike up the volcano rim, that’s when I saw it: My mother was all about the goal, and I was all about the journey. She practically raced to the top! That’s not to say she doesn’t take time to smell the roses (she does), but generally speaking my tendency is to notice the funny looking weed in the pavement crack whereas she might be calling back, “Hurry! We’re almost there” while crushing an unfortunate seedling underfoot! It was comical, but it was an “ah-ha” moment for me, and I always smile whenever I observe this bit of humanity in myself and others. This week I was forced to take a little unexpected journey & another closer look at myself.
We’ve had some unusual weather in the USA lately. While the Polar Vortex wreaked havoc on many states to the north, here in Florida we experienced a few days of cold-snaps followed by days of rain. A LOT OF RAIN! Many schools, offices, businesses and individuals were taken by surprise when the rain that had begun the night before continued to fall on & off all morning & then began steadily dumping on us from noon Thursday until at least 8:00 pm. I found myself stranded in a parking lot about a mile from work, and 9 miles from home. I was sure of two things: 1. I was not about to call a friend with a big truck to come out in this dangerous weather, and 2. I was not going to risk getting my car stuck in a lake that just an hour ago was a road. So, after a few phone conversations with my mother, a few text messages, and one minor melt-down (did I mention it was about to get dark?), I made the decision to leave my car. One more text to our principal: school tomorrow? Yes! <rats!> One more call to a couple of friends who live about a mile away: Can you put me up for the night? Of course! And with that I prepared for my mini-journey.
It took me 1 1/2 hours to reach my friends’ house. It really didn’t seem that long, but later I found out that it seemed longer for my friends & my mother. I had to put my phone & car keys in a ziploc baggie so I was out of touch the whole time. I had planned on going to LA Fitness for my swimming workout after school so I had my toiletries, towels & yoga clothes with me. I bagged what I needed inside one thermal-insulated grocery bag & then placed that inside a second. That scene from “A Christmas Story” went through my mind, “preparing for school” in the winter was like “preparing for extended deep sea diving.” I wrapped my scarf around my head & just had to laugh at myself!
I made it safely & was treated to a shower, a warm meal, a glass of wine, a cozy bed, and all the love & warmth one might expect. In reflecting on my journey through the driving rain, flooded roads & intersections (the one at 33rd & Delaware was thigh high & I’m only 4′ 11″!!!), I was surprised to recall how calm I was after I had made the decision to leave my car. Lately life is like that for me. Maybe I’m getting older (ok! I know I’m getting older; we all are!) or maybe I’m learning how to be more present in life’s little “now” moments.
Although initially angry at the decision makers whom I blamed for my predicament, I felt no anger as I waded through the waters toward my destination. In fact, I found myself looking into the few faces that I encountered along the way, and smiling. There is no such thing as road-rage when you are walking, & you make actual eye-contact with other travelers! The only one I didn’t really smile at was the Reservist standing in the doorway of the National Guard station. I more or less acknowledged him and felt myself straighten-up as I picked-up my pace and marched past with “full pack.”
Sitting here now, still feeling the sore muscles of a far better workout than I had planned for Thursday night, I’m glad of the spiritual workout, too. I’ve been on many journeys in my lifetime, both grand and small. This last one was very short, but full of good things to consider & people to ponder. I reached my “goal” but it’s the “journey” that will occupy my thoughts long after this latest adventure has ended.
[In retrospect, I did make the right call to leave my car & walk to my friends’ house. Every route to my house was flooded & impassable until early Friday morning. If I had tried to walk the 9 miles home, it would have taken me most of the night. I am always grateful for a warm bed and dry clothes! Thanks Jessica & Lowell!!! It is times like these that I am reminded of the many blessings we have & how important it is to share what we have & work for peace & justice for those of us with little or nothing.]