Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Road Trip Mimics Life

In our lives we experience cycles from the excitement of youth seeking happiness to the wisdom of age searching for purpose, so how does this relate to a road trip? I feel like a vacation is a small snapshot of our lives and the emotions and feelings we get mimic, on a small scale, how life changes and develops over time.

When we are planning for the trip, there is the feeling of hope and excitement. As in youth, we tend to dream big and create this amazing fantasy where even a short period of time will make up for all the time we worked hard to afford the costs of the trip. We make plans, we add places to the vacation and activities that don’t necessarily coincide with the actual reality of time or the lack there of.

I feel like half the fun of traveling is the planning, learning about new places and making reservations is all part of the experience. I like the anticipation almost as much as the actual experience. As time passes in the planning process we start to realize the costs and the reality that we have probably allotted enough money for half the experiences and have arranged two weeks of adventures into a weeks worth of time.

So goes youth, we grow into our lives, the realities we redefine and the truth that we learn as we get closer to the actual life we have planned. This is why the teen years are so turbulent, it’s like planning to dive off a ten-foot diving board only to realize it is a cliff that is one hundred foot above treacherous rocks. This is the point in the vacation where you get out on the road and all the questions start to occur; did I forget anything? Did I bring enough cash? Have I planned too much? There is an excitement at this point but there is still that feeling of stress as the miles pass by and we get further and further away from our safe and stable lives.

When we arrive at our destination there is a mix of panic, the flat tire, running out of gas, the credit card that gets declined or the hotel that has misplaced our reservation, it always seems that in the midst of the road trip something goes wrong. We are at the mercy of the road, we feel our lack of planning and the truth of the vacation we have planned, we start to adjust the time we spend, what we are able to do and what we need to plan for another trip. This is life and the reality of the path we chose, both the peaks and the valleys. This time I would equate with our post graduation and the experience we have with building our careers and raising our families, it is as frightening and stressful as it is filled with passion and fulfillment.

With age, we realize the actual truth of the road trip; it’s reliving the points of time, the restaurants you’ve been to and the things you’ve seen. Suddenly the fears and insecurities of being out on the road turn into the confidence of miles driven. I experience a clarity of mind, routine loses its weight on what seems possible, even as the vacation ends you are planning the next place to go, to experience life, the great highs and the insecurities of the lows. The ride home is the wisdom of looking back on our lives and realizing what we have accomplished and perhaps what we might have changed if given the chance.

In the final miles, we long for the routine we worked so hard to get away from and miss the pets we left or the comfortable beds we’ve abandoned. It is a feeling of full circle and yet at the same time whether it be sadness and regret or fulfillment and passion we have made our trip what it was but unlike our lives we can go and do it all over again the next time we have a chance to road trip.
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