Reading and remembering this feels longer than 6 years ago.
My side of the family, each Christmas, converges at one of our homes to celebrate the holiday. This past season, after too many years away, we met in Monterey, CA. Monterey is where my Uncle Daryl and Aunt Carol have lived for a few years shy of forever. We left home Saturday evening and made it through LA by the cover of night. We missed all the traffic and buzzed right on through. (So nice!) We spent the night in Thousand Oaks. We slept in, ate a leisurely complimentary breakfast (that was surprisingly decent for hotel breakfast), and hit the road. The skies were rich blue and the air clear and clean. Even though we were in Southern California, there was just enough crisp in the morning air to make me feel like we were, really truly, on a holiday adventure.
The only downside was that Amira was sick. She had come home from school on Friday with a fever. We were so disappointed because it meant missing her choir performance that evening. For the trip though, if she was going to be sick, it sort of turned out to be good. She was able to create a nest for herself in the backseat and just rest, read, and sleep.
We opted to go up US101. I’ve traveled that way so many times over the years. Because of rains in the prior weeks, this trip was something special. The hills, which are normally a dry golden brown, were covered with fresh green growth. You could see still the spent summer grasses below the verdant new growth. It made for a spectacular, beautiful display. I thought about stopping a few times to take a photo. I’m wishing I did as I type this now. The landscape is so sharp in my mind’s eye. I desperately want to download it from my noggin and share it with you.
Paul and Amira had never been through Big Sur and I hadn’t for years. Because of this, even though it made the trip longer, we opted to drive Big Sur into Monterey. Like the entire trip so far, the colors of Big Sur’s landscape and sea were hyper vivid, intense, and beautiful. We could see evidence of mudslides and road outages from the recent rains. Except for one small 15-minute delay, we were lucky that they had all been cleared and repaired before our passage through. We stopped at a vista and were dazzled by it. Amira was likely less dazzled. She did her best and took it in through her sick-bleary eyes. I do believe the fresh air did her good though.
And this is where I confess. It wasn’t too long after that stop that I suddenly felt done! I wanted out of the twisting roads that followed the Big Sur shoreline. It was majestic, beautiful, moving, and about 20% too long! It felt ungrateful to want out. But, wanting out is exactly what I wanted! Maybe if we had come just for Big Sur, I wouldn’t have felt that way. My relationship with it would have been different, as I think about it now if we had stopped at multiple vantage points and spent time. Instead, we were on our way to somewhere… to Monterey. I was ready to no longer be journeying and to simply ARRIVE at my intended destination. That’s the way it can be with a lot of journeys, right? I have a tendency to be impatient with the journey when I have my desired destination in mind. This can be true of road trips and in things I want to accomplish in me personally. I want better health. Do I really have to invest in consistent and ongoing weeks of regular activity? I want enhanced peace of mind. Do I really have to take the time daily to quiet myself, meditate and listen? The examples go on.
See what I mean? It can be hard to be in, stay with, and enjoy the journey. (I have a friend, Shelli, who is an exception to this rule when it comes to road trips. Maybe you are too.) But for me and maybe others of you too… the key might lie in consciously embracing the journey. Obviously on a road trip that’s not always possible… but for the sake of analogy… what if we had planned to enjoy, meander, breathe and really take in all of Big Sur? We could have planned our travels so that we started fresh in the morning. Bolstered, strengthened, and refreshed by needed rest the night before, we could take our time. We wouldn’t feel the press of having to “get there” and could celebrate the beauty of Big Sur. Something for me to think about for the future, in both a literal and metaphorical sense.
Despite my impatience, we did make it to Monterey in good time… perfect really… dinner time!