I'm not necessarily in a hurry to get to wherever I'm going. I view myself more as an efficient driver than one with road rage issues who feels the need for speed.
Still, I surprised myself by purposefully driving the speed limit while I visited my hometown last week. Yes, out of state speeding ticket fines kept me in check. But I also realized there was no need to rush. Familiar roads called to me and old shortcuts came to mind as I met this friend here and another there.
A new mantra guided my time on the road: there is no rush.
The precise speed limit appeared an enigma at first. The speedometer asked me, "are you sure about this?" And I'd nod decisively. Yes. Let's give this a try, you and me.
I still arrived on time. The cars around me were not disturbed by my staid pace or, if they were more like my former self, they'd switch lanes and go around me. Slow or crazy drivers didn't bother me as much because now the drive mattered as much as the destination.
It shouldn't seem so revolutionary. I'm a mostly law-abiding citizen, after all. Being fully present while driving opened my eyes just the same.
The week home unfolded with gift after gift. I left the Internet to its own devices and while I sometimes thought about what I was missing, it felt good to fully commit to the people before me. To experience life the way I used to before social media enhanced (yet also invaded) my life.
Sunday I went to our annual family reunion. I met up with a friend for coffee in the morning and left from there, instead of driving with my family. The leisurely drive felt more like a stroll as I passed from town to town until I reached the farm.
I caught up with relatives, ate a most delicious smorgasbord, managed to get a slight sunburn, and walked the land. Before I knew it, 4 o'clock beckoned and it was time to say goodbye. (Let the record show: bidding adieu is never a quick affair at Petit family gatherings, especially not at reunions where more than 150 of us are together.)
I hopped in my car and headed toward Urbana to stay with a friend for the night. Route 47 stretched before me and again, I was in no rush. A highway would have allowed for faster speeds but I would have missed out on much.
All of it focusing on the Creator.
Previous trips, my distracted thoughts whipped as frenetically as my desire to Get There. I'd process some, sure. But my focus stayed on my speed and passing slow drivers and avoiding speed traps.
This time I reflected. Conversations, favorite restaurants, old friends, beloved family. I reviewed the majesty of the past few days and counted them as good. All pointing me to my purpose and gifts. God using me in their lives, whether near or far.
Three hours later I pulled up to Kristin's house. We chatted on her front porch awhile and later she and her husband Jason made me a fancy cocktail. A luxury of a night. You can see why I've made Urbana a stopping point on my way to or from home.
The next day I continued on to Nashville. I took in the giant cross as I drove past Effingham. The cross called to mind a road trip to New Orleans several years ago. The first time Liz, Megan, or I had ever seen the cross or heard the story behind it. The Effingham cross gets lost in the shuffle when I remember that trip. Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde. Starting to read the life-changing book A New Kind of Christian. An Incubus concert with friends. And yet, there was the same beacon.
Further down I-57, wind turbines mesmerized me as they always do. The whir and whoosh of their turning blades reminded me again, there is no rush.
Reminder after reminder to enjoy the moment. To be present. Still. Engaged.
Days later I'm driving home from work and it is no picnic. My thoughts need censors and there is no grace to be had on this highway.
Driving Tennesseans bring out my worst. But now I've experienced the other side of driving, the calm, centered approach and I cannot find my center here. Not even a day later.
The 65-440 interchange is backed up for no good reason, per usual. Cars try to bypass the waiting line and sneak in right before the exit ends. Cheaters! I denounce with contempt. And they are cheating. Ah, but my attitude. I wonder what I miss while trying to get around cars and through backed up traffic.
I wonder why this change of pace didn't follow me home to Nashville.
How do I stay engaged while surrounded by cars unable to drive the speed limit when it rains?
I suppose I make the choice one mile at a time.
Summer calls for a change of priorities. Or perhaps new ideas do. Either way, I'll be posting twice a week instead of thrice for the next while. We could all stand for a change of pace. More time outside, another happy hour or show to attend, letting conversations extend for hours, falling into bed happy and content. Let's be present wherever we are, no matter what befalls us.