A beautiful world surrounds us

I’ve had a lot of time on the road, one might argue that it’s been too much. Plenty of time alone with my thoughts. Days where I haven’t talked to anyone for more than a few minutes, sometimes at all. And just because you may not have heard from me, doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about you, family and friends. More than ever I’ve had you on my mind. Sometimes it’s hard to put those thoughts into words, or at least words that I’d like to share. I still keep a lot of things to myself. I’ve regularly checked in with my Mom and my sister so my family knows where I am and that I’m safe, but our conversations are often short.
Anyhow, that’s not what I had in mind when I started this post. I wanted to talk about what I’ve considered during my “windshield time.” The time where I’ve been driving and the road is long and I’m alone with the open road and my thoughts.There have been plenty of beautiful stops. Unbelievable scenery and views; and many detours that I’ve taken along the way.

One recent example, my drive from Fairbanks, AK to Seattle, WA. I did that in 3 days. I’d planned for 5, but I hauled, and I still took the scenic route, every time. Roadtrip tip, whenever possible… take a detour. I’ve rarely been disappointed taking a road along the way that might offer a change of scenery.

So, back to what I’ve been thinking about on the road (besides driving and finding scenic routes) I’ve been listening to a ton of music, adding hundreds of tracks to my playlists. I cannot wait to get behind the decks again and play some music. Cannot WAIT to begin djing again.

I’ve been listening to the news, not just satellite radio, but opinion podcasts on both sides. Quite frankly, I don’t know why I still do this to myself… perhaps part of me still really craves thoughtful (not hateful) political debate. I think that as a society having thoughtful discussion (not arguments) is healthy. Over the years, my views have shifted as a result of healthy conversation and I’ve grown to have a better appreciation of others thoughts as well. I still truly enjoy it. If you’re ever interested in a conversation on any political topic, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’ve also spent a lot of time driving in silence. Thinking. Silent. On long empty roads. It starts to drive me crazy, but it’s also good for me. I’ve been trying to take note of the “running tape” inside my head. Sometimes I’ve pulled over to write things down. I played games with my trip computer and tried to see what speed would get me the best gas mileage (exciting, huh?.)  Sometimes I’d count how many cars I passed, could it be less than 10 in a hour? (The answer is yes, multiple times, sometimes even 5.) This is the time when my thoughts start to really get carried away. I found it hard to settle my mind when I had to concentrate on the road, and when there might be something else spectacular to see right around the corner

 I’ve pulled over and mediated for a few minutes, but there are times when I’ve also been on a clock and I need to make it somewhere before sunset. Driving through the wilderness at night is not only difficult, it felt dangerous. I’ve come around corners and seen elk in the middle of the road, or found that a potential campsite doesn’t exist and had to find alternate places to sleep.

I didn’t always have as much time to write as I would have liked. I took too many mental notes. Now I’m trying to backtrack and get some of those thoughts written down. Much harder than I thought, but I’m scrambling through what I have and documenting what I can. 

So many days have been overloaded with such stunning scenery.
I think that one of the things I’ve realized on this trip is that it can be incredibly difficult to realize or appreciate this “pale blue dot” when so many of us are going about our daily lives in or near an urban environment. This world really is a beautiful place.

I thought back on a period of time when I lived in New York and didn’t leave the island of Manhattan for months. Not even to Queens or Brooklyn. So sad, I lived within a few square miles, and in the past few weeks I’ve found myself in places where in places that size where there might be just as many people that lived in my building.

A few days ago, after driving a spectacular but very unpopulated stretch of road through the Yukon and British Columbia, I arrived in Seattle. Back in a major city. A place where every kind of person lives. Good and bad, happy and unhappy.

At times it’s so easy to be mad at our neighbors, someone who has wronged us, someone who annoys us, I’m very guilty of this. I’ve been beyond mad with some people over the years. But now, I’ve met hundreds of people on the road. Some who I’ve talked to for a few minutes, others who I’m still in touch with. I’ve found that the majority of people are good. Regardless of their views, or the first impression, most people are good.
This time on the road has been amazing, and I’ve wanted to share it with others. I think that everyone should spend some time seeing another part of the world.

Just like the incredible world that surrounds us far from the cities, the person who lives right next door might be just as amazing. I think that it might be harder to see that than on an open road with endless beauty, but perhaps that beauty is all around us. My challenge to myself is to find that in someone today, and the next day. I’d bet that we can all share something beautiful with a neighbor, regardless of views, in the next couple of days. I hope that I will.

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