I got lost for a while back there. Not lost in the sense of not knowing where I am, but lost in the sense of feeling disoriented and confused. And, it is often “stopping” to smell the roses that helped me find my way again. Here, it was a road trip.
At these moments which arise unexpectedly, driving down familiar roads or sipping morning coffee, I found myself once again navigating the memory of what it truly means to be free.
(This was hard to write and edit)
The Tranquility of Emptiness
On this day, I found myself thinking a lot about nothing at all. I let it all go. Sitting in the passenger seat of a car, traveling on a road toward a designation that’s not important for this story–thought I can tell you, it was a supermarket–I drifted.
My mind was blank, as empty as the cup I drink my morning coffee—and it’s now the late afternoon. And, yet I had the reflex to write. So, there we go now.
Ray Bradbury once mused, “We are all fools, all the time. It’s just we’re a different kind each day. We think, I’m not a fool today. I’ve learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning.”
It’s a reminder that every day brings a new perspective, even when our minds seem vacant. I’m a fool in an absurd situation; a mindless husk, yet full of thoughts.
You are reading them; absurd as they are and I’m sober.
The Road Not Yet Taken
What is it about long drives down a highway? The scene changes, or the vibrating thrum of the seat and walls around you that take mind from body; pulling the thin veil of spirit away from flesh.
Flow. A psychologist would call this a flow state: “an optimal mental state, in which you are fully immersed and focused on the task at hand.”
The light of the Sun, shadows pass over my face. I wonder if I could forget some ruminations; the dank reminders of opportunities lost. Regrets.
And, then I see some bumper sticker: “Not all those who wander are lost.” I think this is a JRR Tolkien quote in his book, the Lord of the Rings. Sometimes, I figure that certain choices were never meant to be chosen. And, instead are triggers for knowing more about how to choose the proper paths in the future.
My story is one of many I’ll experience–you’ll experience–every misstep is an opportunity to explore a new world.
What am I saying? Be hopeful.
Childhood’s Fading Echo
I forget sometimes, often really, what my childhood felt like. The freedom; the liberty to experience things as they are in their newness, untainted by thoughts of responsibility, of fears of others, and the need to ensure my well-being as well as those I care about.
Edna St. Vincent Millay beautifully captured this sentiment when he said, “Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.”
I miss my childhood. I listen for it, and find the diminishing sounds of those playful times, meshed with the darkness of things long gone.
But… all is not lost. All that childhood energy hasn’t disappeared, it merely changed into something else. It’s different. The child likeness emerges in other ways in adulthood. And, my job is to keep that part alive and going. So, I find I need to discover things all the time. It’s shaped my career, my hobbies, my approach to everything I think or do.
And, that’s the power. There isn’t a need to grow up, or become some person you don’t need to be. Listen for the echo of those prior voices, unclouded by adulthood.
The child lives inside somewhere, hidden. But, I keep that part protected, afraid to let it out. There is some insanity in this, in camouflaging the innocence that still remains. I think we’ve all got that part of us, still.
Stephen King wrote: “The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish your feelings.”
It’s a poignant reminder that our most profound feelings and memories, especially those connected to our childhood and innocence, can be difficult to articulate. Words, in their limitations, might sometimes fall short of capturing the depth or intensity of such emotions.
There’s a delicate balance we tread in revisiting these spaces within us. While words may never fully encapsulate these feelings, they provide a bridge, allowing us glimpses into these sacred parts of our psyche.
The challenge, then, is not just in recalling these memories, but in choosing the right words to honor them, without diminishing their essence.
Scented Memories of Days Past
My memory serves me well. I recall the fresh morning smells of fresh food, pancakes, maybe, on the kitchen table. While my childhood wasn’t all roses and sunshine–the taste of blood is a metal spoon–there are things I see, feel, that awaken a nostalgia.
A longing there, to be home in the past. And, I don’t even know why I feel this hope for experiencing this day gone by. I know I will experience it again.
DID I DO A GOOD JOB? I Wonder
I contemplate my future’s worth. It’s a silly rumination I know. Cars pass me by on this highway.
When I’m alone, I wonder how the future will be, and if the past I endured was worth it all. Did I find the reward for those challenges I went through, faced, and failed every so often—well, a lot?
Reflecting upon this, the philosophy of existentialism suggests that life’s inherent meaning is what we give it, and our individual experiences shape that narrative.
Autonomy’s Weighty Gift
I don’t think I’ll ever know if I did a good job navigating the earlier years of my life. I am free today, as much as I was back then, when a bathroom break along a road trip required a guardian to help me cross the parking lot; the street.
Autonomy isn’t without cost, a pricey thing bought with someones’ effort.
You’re not free if you’re alone.
Ending and Final Thoughts
In our lives, it’s easy to get lost in memories of the past or dreams of the future. But this simple road trip to the supermarket reminded me of the value of getting lost in thought.
A bit of introspection is good for you!
Safe travels and mind wandering!