Road Trip Oracles

This week, Marc and I are road tripping from New Orleans to Roanoke, VA for a friend’s wedding (I’m photographing, Eleanor’s a flower girl). The fact that I thought I would have ample time to write a thoughtful, evocative essay by this morning is evidence of my deep delusion regarding children and traveling. So while I don’t have any gleaming pearls of #growmofo wisdom for you, I do have some existential interpretations of my family’s many travel complaints so far. I’ll leave it to you to parse out who said what.

“If you don’t turn down that volume on that, I’m throwing it right out the window.”

The divine is always speaking through the still, quiet voice in our hearts. We need to quiet distractions in order to hear it. Also, children will always call your bluff and don’t understand or care how much a tablet costs.

“Ughhhh, we’re going to Atlanta? But I don’t know how to speak Atlantian.”

Communication is nuanced and complex. Sometimes you feel like the people in your life are speaking an alien language, building up barriers in your heart and isolating you from real connection. It’s normal to have anxiety about hard conversations. It’s less normal to confuse the capitol of Georgia with a mythical aquatic city, but if you can only count to thirty and still eat your boogers it’s understandable.

“My life is in shambles and I’m covered in sticky.”

We call this a moment of clarity. When you zoom out and get a bird’s eye view of your life from an objective place free from emotional distortion. Your eyes are opened; you see things for what they are. This can be a powerful catalyst for change, such as embarking on a new career, leaving a toxic relationship, or instituting a “No Drinks in the Car Ever” policy.

“When are we going to see the bigger sharks that kill people?”

If you find yourself continuously driven to look for the next most exciting thing to make you feel happy and fulfilled, it’s worth taking a step back and asking yourself: How can I cultivate gratitude? How can I be happier with what I have in this moment? Where have my parents failed me that I’m unimpressed by a real life whale shark, and why the sudden thirst for violence??

“You’re the absolute worst. THE WORST.”

Marriage is all about compromise. It’s important to see your partner’s preferences as having equal value to your own—they’re differences, not deficits. Differences are the spice of life! A really great time to practice compromise is with driving styles. On a seven-hour trip. With two cranky children in the backseat. It helps to have a counseling appointment set for the day after you return.

“My tongue has been hurting the entire trip!”

When we’re feeling off-center and we’re not sure why, we naturally want to find something to blame it on. Usually these things are external and nowhere near the root problem festering in our spirit. A meditation practice, time spent in prayer, or quiet self-care rituals can help us dig deeper and assess what’s really going on. Ice cream also helps, at least with the tongue thing.

“Is your brother still alive?”

In times of ease, an irrational dread can sometimes take hold, especially if we’ve experienced trauma in the past. We become suspicious of the good things in life because we’re so used to living in that adrenaline-fueled place of survival. What’s the catch here? How long until the bottom drops out? What five minute task should I attempt to accomplish before this baby starts screaming again?

“When are we going to be back in our world?”

Even the biggest ramblers eventually long for home. Whether that is a physical place, a person, or a state inside yourself, we can’t afford to lose touch for too long. There’s a comfort in the familiar; a pull towards our roots. That pull must be especially strong when what stands between you and your world is 14 hours of driving in, if history has proven anything, a car full of Cheeze-Its and farts.