I Took a Drive

Instead of the nightly routine of putting the baby to bed, watching the same TV shows with the wife, and fulfilling my life’s unspoken demand for a harmonious relationship between obligation and self-fulfillment, I did something different. On this warm Spring night I got in the car and started to drive out of the city. Out of the orange cones and construction, out of the thousands of men and women racing home. Out of the routine.

I wasn’t running away or making some great escape. No, it was much less interesting than that. I was simply headed for Hutchinson, KS where a work conference was being held. After all, I love being with my family. I love nothing more. But as a new dad locked into the obligation side of the above mentioned yin and yang, this felt good.

I drove west 2 hours into the Kansas flint hills.

On a two lane highway I rolled the windows down and smelled the sweet country air and smiled. I slowed through little country towns with craft fair signs and that day’s abandoned veggie stands. Trucks on gravel roads formed long dust clouds in the distance that crossed the land between farms. This was a different life style that during my drive I imagined, and envied.

In front of me a newer black Ford Thunderbird convertible had been forging the path ahead into the sunset. There was a woman behind the wheel wearing a brown fedora style hat tapping her fingers to the beat of some country song I could hear playing from the car. Her and I were about the only ones on the road for over an hour besides the occasional semi that swooshed by.

The flint hills really are special. As flat and boring as Kansas is portrayed, this land of rolling green hills spotted with cows, oil rigs, and grain silos holds some real beauty. I contemplated stopping on the side of the road to take some pictures but the countryside beckoned me in deeper so I continue driving.

After a while the sun finally set and the land turned dark. I pulled into the hotel in Hutchinson for the night and as I got out of the car to check in I smiled thinking about my drive one last time. Sometimes it’s important to, even if by accident or obligation, leave what you know behind and head just past the fringe of your routine. It’s there that you can rediscover the forgotten beauty of a world outside your own.

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A Buzzard’s Life and Mine

 

Earlier today I drove down the highway on my way to see a client for work. I passed through the city until the buildings turned into fields. This particular client was located in a town called Grain Valley, Missouri. An RV dealership no-less; About 40 minutes away.

With this much “windshield time” as we call it in sales, I get ample opportunity to listen to the radio and collect my thoughts.

Today my thoughts wandered.

I looked up from behind the wheel to see a buzzard high up in the sky circling. Probably searching for some carcass to eat…

“How nice,” I thought, “would it feel to be that bird from time to time- completely unaware and unaffected from real world problems. From the daily grind, work, paying bills, grocery shopping, managing a crammed calendar of events, stress. From the constant curveballs of life in general! He just floats way up there, feeling the wind through his feathers- never to deal with the complexities and pressures of our fast-paced and judgmental society. Simplicity and peace. To him, he merely exists. To him, that is enough.

I smiled to myself, thinking of the buzzard; Suddenly a bit envious of him.

“What problems does he have?” I thought next.

I came to realize he has a lot. Then my feelings started to change…

I really started thinking about it- Every day this bird wakes up just to try to stay alive. To battle heat or bone-chilling cold weather, to find something to eat or drink (if it’s lucky). To defend himself against predators that want to kill it. This bird lives a life of constant struggle and fear, a life of physical pain- knowing no real emotions and not even aware of his own purpose. Not understanding what could be beyond his own life. Just fight or flight.

A life that goes un-noticed. He feels no love.

If he only knew how easy I really do have it. Wouldn’t this bird laugh? Wouldn’t he mock the life I live?

I go to work and deal with some stress, yes, but I get to wake up knowing I have abundant food, clean water, a beautiful house and am safe from harm. I have healthcare, medicine, education, and opportunity. At every single turn in my existence, there is something or someone to assist me. I am surrounded by love. I have my wife.

It’s not even fair.

Then I smiled to myself once again, but this time thinking of my life. I bet that buzzard would be rather envious of me.

I did think of one exception to the rule though- and that would be the family dog.