Excitement, anxiety, dread, elation, exhaustion, nervousness, discomfort, sadness, love, frustration… it’s all in a day’s work when you decide to turn your life upside down and take it on the road, which is exactly what we, Steve and Kim, have done together. It’s a little overwhelming to start a new path in life with someone you haven’t seen in 8 months, but the rainbow and shooting star we saw on the first two days of traveling helped us feel like we were off to a good start.
Not everything goes according to plan, however. On the way from Greensboro, North Carolina to Chatanooga, Tennessee, we saw a sign that said, “Linville Gorge Next Exit.” Unable to pass up the opportunity to see a gorge, we immediately got off the highway. A couple wrong turns later, some bad directions (thanks, Google) and beautiful country roads with lakes and mountains led to the middle of downtown Marion, North Carolina, where there was clearly NOT a gorge. It was starting to get late, and we were tired and hungry. We parked the van in front of a Hispanic grocery store to discuss…
Tired and grumpy Steven: “How bad do you want to see this gorge?”
Kim: “How badly do you NOT want to see this gorge?”
Steven: “Well, we’ve come this far, haven’t we?”
So we picked a place to eat dinner on our handy dandy iPad (thanks, Mom), a cool little place called Moondoggy’s Diner & Soda Fountain. The owner brought us a free sample of homemade potato chips, then we enjoyed a couple delicious burgers before finally striking out for the gorge, a good 30-minute drive away (as the Google flies). After all these detours and resisting the urge to turn back, we were ready to see this damn gorge…
But not everything goes according to plan. We made our way up the beautiful Appalachian roads to Linville Falls following signs for the gorge. We finally found a place to park with about 15 minutes left before sunset and hurried down the first path we could find, hoping to catch a glimpse of the fabled gorge and take a couple epic pictures before dark. However, the path quickly came to an end, dissolving into complete wilderness. No gorge.
We accepted our gorge-less fate and settled for twilight forest reverie. The stars began to shine as we returned to the car, and despite that nagging urge to get back on the road, we sat and watched the night set in. And our reward? The biggest, brightest shooting star either of us has ever seen.
So what did we learn that day?
Every step of the journey is the journey. Even the detours. Even the frustrations. You never know where the path will lead (or not lead) until you follow it. When you can open your eyes and open your self to the world, the world opens itself to you.
As we continue our journey, it might be easy to fall into frustration when it takes longer than expected to reach our goals or destinations. We think, “Oh, we’ll get there if we just follow the signs.” But we may or may not get “there,” wherever “there” is. Remember that here is more important than there. Now is more important than later. It is crucial to think and plan ahead. AND it is crucial to embrace whatever unexpected changes come our way.