Sunday, December 09, 2007
The Long Non-Winding Road
Twice a week I commute an hour in each direction to teach. On general principles, I love to drive, but practically speaking, I hate this road. The highway is straight and flat, the landscape consists of fields and a few scattered houses, and the law enforcement officials are hiding behind every shrub, between every bridge support, and tucked inside every ditch possible, due to the fact that there is a 20-mile stretch where the speed limit is a painfully restrictive 55 mph.
So that's four hours of thankless driving each and every week.
I hate it and all its deadly dullness.
But honestly? It's where I get my best thinking done.
I'm grateful nobody is in the car with me. I talk to myself, I sing out loud, I argue with invisible people. I have entire conversations with myself or other drivers or animals by the side of the road. I'm not crazy, I'm just bored with a lot on my mind. So I use the boring drive to my advantage and spend this time listening, learning and working through the issues of my life.
My roadside chats are not all that unusual if you think about it. People talk about the path to enlightenment and the road to self-discovery. If you swing with Bible stories, Saul -- now Paul -- experienced a profound and life-changing religious conversion on the road to Emmaus. So who's to say that these conversations with myself are anything out of the ordinary?
Sometimes, forced thinking time is no blessing. Thinking begets over thinking, which leads to over-over thinking, and then you quickly wish for any sort of distraction because too much unoccupied time is no gift when you'd rather not face your thoughts.
But in my overbooked world, I've learned to be grateful for whatever thinking time I have, whether I think I want to or not. Life is a long road. Best to make good use of it.