We Took The Long Way Home...Which wasn’t my intention at all.
Grace, Amber, two cats and me, Cat, were headed back to Florida. Just thinking about twenty hours of driving made me tired. Anxious to get the drive over with I left Kansas City with my foot heavy on the gas pedal. I wanted to do it in one day.
My mind was focused on the future, where I want to be, what I really want to be doing, who I want to be with, etc., etc., and I was not at all centered in the present moment. Longing to be home and longing to be done with the journey I didn’t notice the gray Dodge Charger. The officer noticed me before I noticed him.
He also noticed how fast I was going as my red Dodge Charger came swiftly up behind him.
My mind lurched back to the present moment too late. I was in the passing lane about to leave that gray car in the dust, when I hit the brake.
“Uh-oh.” Was all I said as I slowed way down. I was still in the passing lane, and he slowed down along side me.
I kept slowing down, and so did he. It was ridiculously embarrassing. I just wanted to slip back in behind him praying he hadn’t noticed me. Finally he flipped on his lights, but only for a split second, as I was already pulling over.
He was nice, and I apologized. He said he wondered who would come up so fast on his car. He figured either someone who didn’t realize who he was, or someone who didn’t care.
I fumbled for the insurance, and he invited me to come sit in the front seat of his car. I felt like I had been called into the principal’s office.
I didn’t turn on the tears to get out of the ticket, although I confess I thought about it. Thirty years ago I got pulled over quite frequently, and I was quite well versed in getting out of tickets. This time I just accepted it. Maybe I felt too old to sweet talk him, maybe I felt too mature to cry about it, or maybe I just wanted him to hurry up, write me up and let me get on my way again.
For the next several hours I analyzed getting a ticket. What did it mean? What was Spirit trying to tell me? What in the world could the message be?
Then I saw a Dairy Queen, and decided we needed to have fun. Instead of hurrying home, we would enjoy the journey. We bought treats, and made a note that in Arkansas they hang the Ten Commandments on the wall at the Dairy Queen.
Then in Memphis I made sure we went by Graceland. We took the back road to Tupelo, Mississippi and stopped at Elvis’ birthplace. This humble one room house that his father built touched me more than Graceland. My daughters sat in Elvis porch swing while I talked to the oldest and biggest tree around, getting the inside scoop on Elvis.
Day two we were in Alabama, with traffic backed up for miles. Stopping in at a local grocery store to wait for traffic to clear, and to get snacks, I asked the sales clerk about all the traffic. She said in a beautiful southern drawl, “Well, honey, they’re all headed to the beach. It’s a holiday weekend.”
“Oh, the beach?” The nearest beach was Florida. “That’s where I’m going, but I’m just trying to get home.” Like suddenly realizing the car I was about to pass was a police officer, I suddenly realized trying to get to Florida on the Fourth of July weekend was very poor planning on my part.
“You live in Florida? And you’re trying to get home?” she stopped bagging and almost looked like she was going to tear up for me, “Well, bless your heart!”
I didn’t know how to reply to that. But I liked the way she said it and decided I would use that line more often. I returned to the car and handed my daughters the snacks and said, “Bless your hearts!” in my best southern twang.
So we spent a long day in Alabama, crawling on the freeway with thousands of others trying to get to Florida, bless their hearts.
And on day three I realized in all my years of going back and forth to Florida, it has never taken me so long to get there. And I never had so much fun.
Sometimes when we get too focused on the future, we miss the beauty that is possible in the present moment.
Some days I can see the future, and I want to jump ahead and be there now. Other days I come back to the present moment and realize that the magic is happening all the time. But we need to remain present to experience it, to realize how special each and every moment can be. Just getting from here to there can be an amazing thing.
We don’t really know how we will get there. We don’t know if the road will be clear, or if we will have detours along the way. We may have glimpses of what may be someday, but in the moments, the itty bitty moments, amazing things happen.
Slow down, enjoy the journey, and eat some ice cream.
Blessing Hearts Every Chance I Get,
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