If gas wasn’t so expensive, I would recommend that everyone take a road trip at least once a month. I love road trips and often get emotional when taking one. Perhaps I am simply nostalgic – especially when traveling through places I traveled earlier in life. Perhaps it is because I am normally so busy that it is a relief to just sit behind the wheel of a car, watch the landscape pass by and simply remember …
We recently took a couple trips through familiar places to exhibit our documentary, ‘Reparando’. These trips wore me out physically, but they inspired me in many ways. I tried to remember back when I was a child on road trips with my family. Many of the details are now a blur, but I have been able to savor a few vivid details. I remember the distinct smell of my family’s van on hot summer trips from Virginia to Texas back in the early 80’s. The icy air-conditioner blew on my face like a winter blizzard and made my eyes water. I remember imagining I was riding a motorcycle, racing over the hills and jumping ravines next to our vehicle. Somehow this “motorcycle” could fly and I would zoom over the hills and up the mountains. My mind would then imagine being the first explorer to ever set foot in this new territory. As I look back, there were a couple mountains that always stood out to me. I always marked the progress of our journey by these peaks that reached up to the heavens in East-Tennessee.
Somehow we all seem to grow up and have less time to see things the way we did when we were children. But every once in a while, we are blessed with a memory that sparks new thoughts. As we traveled to Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, we drove through east Tennessee and I noticed these same peaks in the distance. They still look the same, but many other landmarks have changed. I noticed new sights (buildings, overpasses … etc.). I also noticed the absence of some familiar landmarks that were evidently removed in the wake of development (most noticeably, the huge Guitar building outside of Bristol).
I had this moment while my wife and children were asleep (they often sleep on trips). As I looked up, I couldn’t help but notice the white clouds dancing across the deep blue sky and it dawned on me. These vapory ghosts are always changing, but I rarely take the time to notice; at least not recently. I have been too busy with work … important work … but work that many times imprisons my mind. These clouds reminded me of the need to do more than take mental pictures of things around me as I plow through a mountain of to-do’s. They challenged me to take breaks, engage with my family and friends and reflect on the things I should be thankful for. This is easier said than done for all of us as North Americans. We are born to be busy. It’s in our DNA. However, James 4:14 says “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
I’m just a white cloud dancing across the sky against the backdrop of an unchanging mountain.
Life is short. I need to focus on what matters … and if need be, I’m ready for another road trip.