“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Bertrand Russell
One of the wonderful, but unexpected, benefits of holidays and vacations is learning to relax. I’m not exactly a type-A personality. I know how to pace myself, for the most part. I enjoy my days off and time away from church and office. I’m not much of a work-a-holic, but still, relaxing takes a bit of doing for me.
When I need to go somewhere, there is no “enjoying the journey” as such. I set my sights on the destination and then plow ahead come hail or high water. It doesn’t bother me to stop for fuel or food, but there are few roadside attractions for which I’ll slow down and gawk, let alone visit.
Part of this is my Scottish ancestry. Now, admittedly, it only accounts for about 1/16th of my blood, but when it comes to thrift, I could pass for 100% Highlander. Some roadside attractions are a perversion of that wonderful Bible passage: You were a stranger, so I took you in. Hospitality is fine, but no one likes to be “taken in” – right?
Oh sure, when our children were growing up, we made sure to stop and enjoy the world’s “Mystery Spots” where the laws of gravity are suspended through the creative use of optical illusions. We enjoyed visiting the amusement parks with their roller coasters and fun houses. We bought our fair share of tee-shirts confirming where we’d been and what we’d done and seen. But as adults, with our kids out of the house, my tastes have changed; my desires have changed; my interests have changed.
I enjoy going places and doing things, but I don’t much care for the roadside attractions anymore. They hold a “been there, done that” quality to them that simply doesn’t appeal to me anymore. My preference has always been people. I like visiting family and friends and catching up with them. For me, it is the people that matter, not the sights.
I can be a bit fussy regards what I consider entertaining or fun, but we did change things up a bit. We decided to visit family in the Seattle area this year, but rather than taking the Interstate, as we normally would, we chose to make the journey via some old black-top highways instead. While the trip was slower, we came to discover that it was much more enjoyable.
Part of the pleasure was to be had in actually having to drive the car. We have gotten so used to zipping along freeways non-stop that we have forgotten the actual delights of driving. The old roads are narrower, curvier, and much more scenic. One must slow down, speed up, and pass through towns (rather than around them or past them via segregated corridors).
The trip that, by freeway, would have run about eleven hours took about sixteen to eighteen hours, but it was broken up into several overnight layovers. That made the expedition much more relaxing and gave us a chance to see parts of the world we had not seen before. We got to stop for meals at local diners, rather than at the tried-and-true chain restaurants we’re more used to. In short, we got to spend time IN America, rather than in passing THROUGH America, and that made all the difference for me.
Until now, most of my life has been focused outward – school, work, projects, obligations, meeting the needs, desires, and expectations of others. Keeping busy and “doing unto others” certainly has its own profits and rewards, but I think I am finally wising up and discovering the benefits to be gained by slowing down and turning inward.
By easing up on the accelerator, I find it has been easier for God to catch up and replenish my soul. In our jet-paced, turbo-charged world, we sometimes forget that God tends to be a walker. He walked in the cool of the evening in the Garden, and he walked the dusty trails of Galilee. He’s certainly got a long stride, but I’m beginning to think God prefers the sound of footsteps to the monotonous drone of a highway life.
As a follower of The Way, perhaps I don’t need to be so “driven” in this, our valley. It’s time, I think, to get some walking shoes, instead.