Slow Down, Enjoy the Ride
Within the past nine months, I received two speeding tickets on the roadway near my home. It infuriated me, not only because of the hefty fine, but also because they forced me to drive more slowly. Those that know me will tell you that I am a stickler for efficiency, focusing on the quickest way to get things done. I evaluate the order of how I will do things to make sure that no time is wasted. I’ll load the laundry into the washer, then pop the chicken in the oven for dinner, then focus on straightening the living room. Multiple things are in motion at the same time so I can cross things off the to-do list and feel like I am getting things done.
It’s the same with driving. I like to drive fast because it feels like I am getting there quicker. As I was driving the other day, I had a revelation about myself. In typical Mindy fashion, I pressed down hard on the gas pedal as a light changed from red to green. In that moment, I noticed the force that pushed me back into the driver’s seat and the sense of satisfaction I felt with it. Why did I like that feeling so much? As I thought it through, I realized I associated that feeling with getting somewhere. Ironically, I was stopped a few feet later at another light.
As I sat there, I started thinking about my commutes to work. Right now, I’m working two jobs, with two very different commutes. One is clogged with traffic, lights and construction and I find myself having to exercise patience to navigate them. The other commute is more leisurely with fewer lights, cars and no construction so I find myself easily driving 15 miles over the speed limit. Remembering my speeding tickets, I’ve started using my cruise control to ensure I don’t exceed the speed limit (too much). Let me tell you, it’s hard for me. When I’m driving at 30 miles per hour, there’s no force pushing me back into my seat, so it feels like I’m not going anywhere. I have to fight the urge to press the gas pedal.
In my pondering, I saw life as a series of road trips. Some are short, and some are longer, but we’ll eventually get to our destination. In this season of my life, I feel like I’m on a particularly long trip. My speeding tickets were a reminder that I need to set the cruise control and enjoy the ride.
This realization took me back to 2014 when my husband and I were first married. For our honeymoon, we flew to Ireland, and then drove around the country in a wide, sweeping circle with Dublin as our base. We only had a loose agenda, so each morning we woke and decided what we felt like doing that day. Often, we found ourselves booking accommodations right before we arrived in the next town. Our record was booking a room at 9pm for our 9:30pm arrival. Many times, we would find ourselves deviating from our course on a whim. Like the time we saw a rainbow while driving, so we turned off the main road onto to narrow, winding back roads until we came to a pebble beach. There, we basked in the beautiful view of the rainbow over gently crashing waves.
Or, like the time we were desperate for a good cup of coffee and took a 30-minute detour from our next destination to the little town of Ennistymon. There, the locals told us, was a French café that would serve us a good cup. We wanted to get the coffee to-go so we could get on our way, but the French barista gave us such a condescending look we felt so ashamed for even asking. As we waited for our coffee, we noticed the bright, cheerful colors on the walls, the coziness of the window seat, and the lushness of the hanging plants. So we sat for 15 minutes and sipped our coffee, appreciating the moment.
Or, like the day we were supposed to drive around Ring of Kerry, but it was raining. Rather than mucking around in torrential downpour, we decided to go to Limerick instead. We didn’t know what there was to do there, but we managed to find a dodgy hotel room in the heart of town. From there, we spent a rainy afternoon exploring King John’s Castle. By the afternoon, the sun was peaking from behind the clouds and we savored the view of the rushing Shannon River with the cool breeze on our cheeks. Next, we had a whiskey tasting at Michael Flannery’s pub, where Michael himself sat quietly in a corner with a newspaper, unbeknownst to us. Apparently, he’s kind of a big deal in Limerick. After, we trekked to a gastro pub for a modern take on Irish classics and washed down our meal with craft beer. This is where I thought the Arthur Guinness picture on the wall was George Washington. Ben (my hubby) still teases me about it!
To this day, our Ireland honeymoon is one of my favorite trips. I’ve realized that it was the little junctures, where I was just being in the moment, that I have my fondest memories. These were the off-the-beaten-path, unplanned detours we took along the way.
Life has a funny way of deterring our best laid plans, so viewing it as a road trip helps me keep things in perspective. It’s okay if my plans are thwarted or if I have a setback in reaching my goals. The destination is still up ahead. So I’m going to embrace the detours and appreciate every little rainbow and cozy café along the way. It’ll be what I remember most anyway.
All photos were taken during our Ireland 2014 vacation.