Road Trip: How Driving Can Change Your Life
Around this time every year, the most well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions start dying off.
Maybe you stuck to something for a week, maybe 5 days, maybe you planned on changing but never started, and now this year is shaping up to look a lot like last year and the year before that.
Well my fellow fickle humanoids, let me tell you a story.
Last fall, I bought my first-ever new car.
It was a big step for me. I usually do the practical thing and play it safe, but I had hit that intersection of depression and apathy that made me more comfortable with large financial decisions. Not to mention, my 2004 Chevy Cavalier was already running on borrowed time, so I drove to the dealership and pulled the metaphorical trigger.
That new car became my saving grace in more ways than one. Not only did I have the security of knowing I had a functional vehicle for the foreseeable future, but it turned out that aimlessly driving around soothed one of the blackest depressions I ever found myself in.
On nights where I frantically paced my house trying to get a grip on a mind that was trying its best to kill me, I would go out to my car, turn on the engine and drive.
For awhile it was nowhere in particular. I live in San Diego and the traffic is usually bad, but in the middle of the night, especially heading East, there wasn’t much going on. I’d drink red bull, smoke cigarettes, and listen to music as my headlights cut through the dark.
Eventually I reasoned if I was going to be doing all this driving I might as well go somewhere.
So I booked an Airbnb in the woods of Ashland, Oregon over Halloween weekend, pointed the car north and started to drive.
And I drove and I drove and I drove.
I stopped in Monterey, spent my weekend in Oregon and eventually stopped in Seattle where I crashed with friends for a week completely impromptu. (Thank you, friends.)
I didn’t want to go home. So I didn’t. I regretted I had left my passport at home, otherwise I could have continued north in to Canada. I would have driven to the end of the Earth if there had been that much road. Reason, for once, had switched itself off and all I could respond to was forward motion.
Like an infant being rocked to sleep in its mother’s arms, the lull of the road soothed me in to a numb calm where nothing mattered but pushing on.
I stayed in Seattle until I could bear the thoughts of coming home. Then I turned the car south and drove back to San Diego.
I was home all of 4 weeks when I decided to drive to Ohio to spend the holidays with family.
My excursions up north had been like a trial run to see how I’d like life on the road.
Turns out I loved it. I wanted to drive forever.
So I got my affairs in order, packed my bags and hit the road again.
Something happens to you after hours and hours and days and days on the road. There’s not much to do but think about things. And one of the most amazing things about travelling like that is how you wake up in one place and go to sleep somewhere completely different.
The people are different, the landscape is different, the air is different, the culture is different. And all you did to facilitate all of this change was sit in a car for many hours at a time. That’s it.
And once you realize this and see that you are completely transforming your surroundings by doing nothing but driving, you see that the ability to take yourself from one place to somewhere radically different is all in the action of physically taking yourself there.
And suddenly changing your life doesn’t seem that difficult or far-fetched anymore.
If, after 4 days, I could be sitting in Ohio surrounded by people who love me, when less than a week before I was dying in black despair in California, what else could I change?
It turns out the only difference between the reality we’re living in right now and the world of our wildest dreams is action.
Intentionally propelling ourselves onward down the road.
The physical re-location of my body from one place to another helped me realize that a drastically different life is only one decision away.
Anything you can dream, anything you desire for yourself in 2019 can be yours if you take thoughts and turn them in to actions.
Small, actionable steps. It may take many miles to get there, but if you go forward every day, you will look back over the road you traveled and be amazed that you’ve built the life you wanted, not passively accepted the life that was handed to you.
So think of this year as your new car. Decide where you want to be. Start the engine. And drive.
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