A friend and former co-worker of Edie’s died a week after we left on our road trip; she was sixty years old. Edie and her friend had spoken in great length over the years about their plans for retirement and the excitement they felt to begin working on those plans. The friend and her entire family (adult children and their families) were planning on moving to Idaho and wanted to be there before school started in the fall. She retired from her job at the beginning of May 2015, ready to get her Nevada house packed up and sold so they could begin their lives in Idaho; she passed away before May ended, never having realized the fulfillment of all the years of planning.
When someone passes on, we can’t help but ponder about our own lives, wondering how much time we have left and how many unfulfilled dreams we will leave behind. It’s one of the reasons the two of us take road trips. We want to see places we’ve only heard about and we want to have experiences that take us outside of the box of normal, everyday living. We want to know what we can do, not what we can’t do. Believing you can’t do something becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy -- the truth is most challenges can be worked through or around with a little creativity and a lot of fortitude. If we contemplated every bad thing that could happen to us on the road as we drive, we would never leave our house.
Instead, we put our faith in a loving Heavenly Father whose presence we feel profoundly whenever we travel. And sometimes He blesses us with miracles. Like when we pray that a horrific rain storm will ease long enough for us to get to our next destination and the prayer is answered immediately. While it may sound silly to others, our road trips have increased our faith and reinforced our knowledge that we matter to our Father in Heaven and that He is aware of every step we take.
Every trip we take changes and inspires us to some extent. We have met people whom we will remember for a long time and, hopefully, some of them feel the same way about us. There’s the waitress in Holland, Michigan, who told Sandy that Sandy had made her day because Sandy admired the way the waitress handled something. The waitress commented that no one had ever said that to her before. Did it change the waitress’s life? Probably not. But for that day we were sitting in the right restaurant at the right time to impact someone’s day. Or the family from California we met in Washington DC while waiting to enter Ford’s Theatre. One of our favorite memories will be the woman who operated a home furnishings and antiques store in Richmond, Virginia. We spent a long time standing in her store just talking with her about family, traveling, and hair (we loved her hair style). She was organically beautiful; she either had great genes or took great care of herself through diet and exercise. We thought she was in her late 40’s or even 50’s; turns out she’s 67 years old. She really impressed and inspired us and she told us that we made her want to go home and get her husband and travel somewhere. She hugged us before we left.
Every historical site we visit impacts us, too. To see how and where this great country was created reminds us that it is our responsibility to make sure that people before us didn’t sacrifice and die in vain so that we could be free now. We are free to live lives that matter, that have purpose, that impact others in some small way, hopefully, before our time on earth is over, in spite of our fears, worries, doubts, comfort zones, and the need to procrastinate.
Personal growth and fulfillment comes from stepping outside of our everyday lives and trying new things, even if the results aren’t what we expected. There’s no failure in trying, but not trying will later bring regrets. Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So we will keep traveling and trying new things.