I considered naming this post “Getting Lost” or “Lost and Found” or “Are You Freaking Kidding Me – Are We Going The Wrong Way Again???” but “The Road Less Traveled” seems to flow a bit better. When you get lost, everything just feels wrong. Your emotions get scrambled, your sense of direction goes out the window, and time slows in a way that feels like you are never going to find your way again. However getting lost is sometimes the very thing that you need in that moment.
A few months ago, my husband and I took the kids on a trip to the hill country (an area in south central Texas with all kinds of fun stuff to do). Whenever we travel, the vacation starts the moment we get in the car. I’m not implying that driving several hours with small children in a packed vehicle is a vacation (because it is not) but we like to find adventure along the way if the moment presents itself. Admittedly our form of adventure is pretty nerdy as it often entails hunting for fossils in roadside cutouts, but who isn’t entertained with finding a cast of a shell that was made 120,000,000 years ago – amazing!
We were about an hour down the road when I saw an eighteen-wheeler parked at a rest stop on the side of the road. This truck was hauling three MASSIVE tires. Although tires aren’t typically on the list of “Things That Excite MoJo,” these were pretty darn cool. I mean they were HUUUUUUGE! Given my penchant for random dorkiness, I asked my husband if we could turn around and go take pictures. I reeeeaaaally wanted to take a picture on a tire but would have gladly settled for a picture in front of the truck. Nevertheless we had passed the rest stop and the next exit was a few miles away. It just wasn’t going to work out so we agreed to keep going. Of course I was a bit bummed because they were really really neat and I am easily entertained. Oh well.
As we continued down the road, the navigation system (from this point on I will call it “the nav”) indicated that we would be heading to our destination via a seemingly unnecessarily long route. Being the creative individual I am, I decided to create a shortcut. (If there was music playing as you read this post, the tone would have just shifted from happy jaunty to dumb misguided.) It appears that when one creates driving shortcuts, she should have some general familiarity with the roads in the area – not just a desire to go “that way.” Oh MoJo.
So I exited, took the new road for several miles, and then realized that I was heading south instead of west as I had planned. Already my shortcut way paying us back. Rather than go back the way I came, I wanted to make up the time by creating another shortcut. Yes I so did. As the new shortcut did not want to be outdone by the previous shortcut, it added even more miles to the trip before returning us back to the original freeway. Well now I really needed to make up time, so what did I do?? Of course I did the only logical thing one could do after creating two highly faulty shortcuts – I created another. I’m not kidding. I really am that obtuse and mule-headed. And yet again, we went off in the wrong direction. (For the record, this would not be nearly as embarrassing if I didn’t have a nav and compass built into my vehicle with specific directions telling me which roads I should have been taking.) I’m not sure why my husband did not activate the emergency brake and steal the keys, but I guess he was curious to see how the MoJo Driving Show was going to end, too.
As we headed east (keep in mind that we should have been heading west the entire time), we ended up on some wacky little back road in a country neighborhood. It was a pretty area but where the heck were we? I had an epiphany and thought “Hey maybe we could use the nav system that was so expensive and actually included a map!” The guidance system (that had been ignored for the previous half an hour) indicated that we could hit another highway in a couple of miles that would get us heading in the right direction. I had to continue northeast to get there, but it was going to eventually take us west! So we continued down this little two lane road and soon found ourselves bumper to bumper with funniest surprise we never expected.
It was the tire truck! I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I laughed like a child. It was right in front of us and the tires were absolutely ginormous! I think the poor driver must have been lost, too, because he definitely had no reason to have that giant truck on that little road. As we approached the new highway that would send us along our way, the driver turned the same direction we would be heading. Part of me wanted to flag him down in order to beg for pictures, but that seemed inappropriate. So I opted for stalking instead. Technically what happened was that I noticed that he was driving very slowly so I pulled over to see what would happen. And lo and behold he pulled over to the side of the highway and parked! I’m pretty sure I started clapping and screaming (I mentioned the whole “easily entertained” thing, right??) and jumped out of the car to go ask if we could take pictures.
I am confident that this man thought I was looney toons when I knocked on his door ten feet over my head. I asked if it would be okay if we climbed up on the flatbed to take pictures ON the tires, and shockingly he smiled and said yes! I ran to my car and rounded up the family. My wonderfully patient (and thankfully strong) husband had to pick all of us up to get us on the flatbed (me included because it was just too darn high). If I thought getting on the flatbed was tricky, it didn’t hold a candle to my trying to get on the tire. It came up to my chin, and I am as graceful as a dog on ice. Miraculously (and probably with extensive divine pushing), I made it up onto the tire with the kids (whom I had placed there moments before). It was the silliest, most random, and most fun adventure, and I couldn’t have planned it that way if I had been given a million years to get it right.
Thank heavens (and I mean that literally) it wasn’t my job to plan it. I always had the perfect guidance system, but ironically it wasn’t the nav. We think we are lost and get so caught up in the moment. However our getting lost is often the same way our happiness can be found. As the adventure went along, we had been able to laugh (for the most part) about all the wrong directions I kept taking, and we stopped to take pictures at several lovely locations. We enjoyed the ride even though we weren’t sure how we were going to get moving in the right direction, and we just trusted that we would get there at some point. And look what happened when we least expected it. It wouldn’t have been nearly as fun or amusing if I had gotten my way the first time around. There was a better plan that clearly recognized in advance what an obstinate bonehead I was going to be behind the wheel. :)
Don’t let a few detours steal your joy. Seek the joy in those moments because every second in your life is one more opportunity for you to be happy. You are never off the path. The whole journey is the path. Enjoy life and laugh as often as you can. And if you want to take a road trip with me, consider yourself warned because I still like to create “shortcuts” that are anything but short!
Have a gorgeous weekend. I hope you it brings you adventures on the road less traveled, too. Love and light always. Joanna (a.k.a. MoJo)