Having lived in the Northwest area of town on and off for about 40 years, I know the roads pretty well. When we first moved to the area in the early 70’s, Hwy 169 (then County Road 18) was a dirt road. Living just east of 169, we were the last line of residential homes before the farms and lakes continued off toward the Dakotas. There have been many changes since the dirt road with its Metro 500 gas station.
This week, due to construction traffic, my bus has started to use 169 as routing for downtown. Staring out the window as bus riders often do, I noticed something new. Amidst the small business and strip malls snaking along the highway, there was an abrupt stop of commercialism and shift to green. Acres and acres of mature trees, wild growth at their roots, opening to wetlands with herons above and red-wing blackbirds swaying on the breeze-blown cattails. I imagine the variedness of hidden wildlife living under the tree canopy. It was unexpected beauty. My body relaxed and I took a deep breath as if to invite this landscape into my soul.
Driving a road and being the passenger down the same road offers very different experience. It changes what we look at and the ways we look. Driving, I work to keep my eyes focused on other cars, attempt to anticipate other driver’s moves while noting some essentials of the road side. I am (hopefully, yet admittedly not always) on task, cautious and intentional. When I am driving the destination is often my focus, so I notice the obstacles: the traffic, the construction, and detours. Sometimes I find myself holding my breath in guardedness.
It is different when I ride. While in the passenger seat I do not have to be on task, cautious or intentional. I can be trusting, curious and relaxed. I see details never notice while driving: new stores and restaurants, changing landscape and the movement of traffic patterns. I can close my eyes, nap or read a book. When the present moment is my focus, I notice the opportunities for movement, the creation of new spaces and I can breathe.
These are not only choices while driving, they are our choices in daily life. Sometimes we have to be “driving,” no doubt about it. We have to get things done: work details, kids to swim practice, bathroom cleaned… However, how often do we stay in the “driver’s seat” when we might have a more relaxed ride? How much do we worry, trying to control our surroundings, or can we let go? The way in which this sacred green space surprised me, reminds me how often I need to stop, take a look around and breathe. Had I been driving, I doubt I would not have noticed, my mind busy elsewhere. For the few minutes it took to stop from “doing” to “resting” allowed the space of green to offer restoration to my tired soul.
What do you “drive by” every day in your busy life? Where can you choose to rest instead of do, “ride” instead of “drive?” I invite you to find one aspect of your life this week where you can move from driving to riding. Notice what happens. How does it impact your body? Your emotions? Your responses? If the idea of “riding” is new, it may feel very uncomfortable, and you may feel uneasy about the thought! Like any new habit, it takes some time to settle into a new rhythm. It is worth it. Choose a friend to share your experience. Compare notes. What worked? What could be changed? The control we choose in our lives can sap the energy we want to use in other ways. What can you let go?
Your challenge this week: Step out of the driver’s seat and take a ride.
Remember: Restoration starts in the passenger seat.
Create the week you want to experience,