I love a long drive.
Yesterday Son and I drove over to the west coast (of Florida for those non-Floridians who assumed differently) to visit some friends. It’s a just under two hour drive, making it long enough to qualify as long, but short enough to hopefully not have to stop for a pee break (which can only be accomplished with a three-year-old if you refuse to let him drink anything an hour before you leave).
This journey involved taking I-75, affectionately knows as Alligator Alley, across South Florida. This is one of the few South Florida roads not crowded with condos and shopping malls and tourists in white knee socks (much love to those tourists, who keep our state income-tax free!). What you see along the ninety or so miles is sawgrass, a few trees, sawgrass, brush, flatlands, sawgrass and the occasional alligator and cow (though not usually hanging out together). And lots of sawgrass.
On trips like this my thoughts often focus inward. Having a great soundtrack enhances the experience. Yesterday I listened to James Taylor’s Greatest Hits, one of my all-time favorite albums. His earthy, soulful tunes always touch me in a place I can’t pinpoint, and that I’m sure is in no anatomy book.
It was a beautiful day, and as I drove I felt lots of emotions building up within me. I always feel an immense sense of freedom on the open road. Freedom and adventure, hope for what the future will bring, peace at having left whatever current problems and stresses behind. I feel stronger, happier, prettier, more powerful and effective – me at my best. I rejoice in the beauty of nature – the sawgrass swaying in the breeze, the blue sky and white puffy clouds, the cows resting in the shade of the lone tree in the pasture. I feel very close to G-d, and in those moments I am never more sure that He is up there, watching me enjoy life.
As I drive the miles I just feel invincible. Suddenly I can see new possible solutions to long-standing problems, my energy level soars, I forgive myself for my perceived flaws and re-commit myself to losing weight, getting more exercise, having more patience and using coupons. I think about the people in the cars around me, and I wonder about who they are and where they’re going. I wonder if they are having a similar experience, and I hope they are.
The joy I feel is incredible, and it often brings a tear to my eye. I look at my son, who always lives life as if he’s on the open road, and he smiles at me. I smile back.
Powerful stuff, that open road.