Normally, prior to embarking on a road trip, I anticipate the long road ahead, no pun intended and visualize all the freedom the road has to offer, tell myself that the hours spent and the miles driven is a great practice of meditation in motion. That’s it forward movement. That I’m forced to reconcile being in the process since I can’t rush getting to the destination.
Maybe this is a grandiose way of gaslighting myself, but it proves effective. I feel mentally prepared, dare I say excited about the long day ahead.
And then you add to the car 2 kids, 2 dogs and your ex-boyfriend who co-parents with you. I mean, how bad could it be? We’ve been living in close proximity since March. We’ve learned to spend more time together recently in ways we haven’t in the past. One might argue, one being me who imagines a 15 hour day in the car as some form of enlightenment, that we are not just prepared for this- we were made for this.
Turns out, we weren’t. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but the first 6 hours were definitely touch and go. As life would have it, one out of 4 of us thought we’d have enough sense to get on the road before 7am. Another person thought it was a 10 hour drive. We can take our time and leave around 9, maybe even 10. (which meant 10:45) Someone else had broken their charger off in their iPad before we left Austin’s city limits and insisted we find an Apple Store to resolve the situation immediately. Because they also forgot chargers and what were they going to do all day?
The dogs? Well, I can’t speak for the dogs, but based on their physical presence I’d say they might suffer from some form of mild motion sickness. Perhaps vertigo in its lightest form. They barely moved.
I’d been telling my family for a few weeks that we needed to get away – out of our environment and routines to get some perspective. Some clarity. Some time together outside of our usual grind.
Some quality time.
Their response: “but we’ve been spending all the time together for months”
My rebuttal: “but after this year and with you both going to college, this is probably the last summer that I’ll have you all to myself.”
I was reminded that I’ve been saying that line for years followed by, “but you’re right. It would be nice to get away for a minute.” (we’d prefer if it were with our friends, but since that’s not an option we will go with the next best and only other option. Our parents.)
The night before we left, I had listened to the Tim Ferris Interview with Hugh Jackman. A friend sent it to me after listening to my recent episode on manifestation and suggested I give it a listen. “You’re going to really like it” he said. More than like, I noted several new habits that I wanted to adopt and was actually kind of floored. I’ve never given much thought to Hugh Jackman as an individual or celebrity other than the fact that I believed (have not verified) but thought I heard that his wife was older than him. For some reason my brain has held onto this belief that has been serving me as I get older and more single. It makes no sense. And it may not even be true. Anyway. There’s way more to Hugh Jackman (and his wife) then this superficial dated belief.
Like the way he starts his day with his wife (which I’m 100% manifesting in my future relationship): He makes her tea, him a coffee. Hops in a cold shower then they read and meditate – TOGETHER. Relationship goals. Add sex to my morning though…
Then he designs his day. Straight up plans it out to the detail. It’s similar to my Future Focus concept, but practiced one day at a time. You decided ahead of time how you want the day to go. The conversations you want to have. The things you want to accomplish. You write it down in past tense, send to a friend, coach or therapist- anyone who will hold you accountable – and then set out for your day. At days end, you rate the alignment on a scale of 1-10.
I woke up the morning we were scheduled to leave and decided I would design my day. When I looked back at the end of the day I saw myself going with the flow. (As opposed to my usual self that tries to enforce my schedule, thoughts, frame of mind, what have you on those around me. Me before design your day, “Come on! We get to be in a car together for 15 hours! Isn’t this rad! Think of it like meditation in motion…. Just choose to be cool. Don’t be all uncool…” insert eye rolls, being tuned out and mocked)
As we loaded the car people were agitated and anxious. There were tears before we left the driveway.
I thought this was a better time than any to tell them what my intentions were for the day; that I was going to go with the flow and then someone snapped at me.
At which point I was like, “This is my headspace for today. If you want to be a dick, you do you, but own it. You have a choice.”
Then someone said, Okay, I don’t think Hugh would approve of the ‘don’t be a dick’ message, but we understand the concept.
They might have been right. I was new at designing my day.
Midway through the trip there was a conversation about the way the drive started. That there was a lack of communication on everyones part. Some resentments were being harbored. Not just that morning, but the past few weeks.
Eyes on the road and out the window, we took turns sharing in our frustrations while offering feedback. It wasn’t “I’m sorry, you are right. Or you’re wrong, it’s this”.
It was Listening. Introspection. Perspective.
There’s this thing that happens to our brains when we are in the car; much like a confessional the setting feels safe. Eyes aren’t staring directly at you, waiting and watching for you to respond. You can feel free to share on the road.
When I rested my head on my pillow 15 hours later, I looked back on the day. I had done it. I had gone with the flow. Despite my don’t be a dick comment, I let everyone feel their feels. I didn’t freak out about the amount of stops. And I became aware, no one was a dick.
Everyone owned their feelings. Didn’t complain. They dropped into the ride and managed their emotions.
I wondered, does my not trying to micromanage and control their feelings/the outcome make for a smoother ride?
Is it possible that my mindset about being on the road combined with designing my day is the secret to life? That I can head towards my destination while staying present in the process? And just go with the flow?
3 days in and I’d say yes.