Navigating In a Storm

I was on a road trip across the northern part of the United States with my brother when I noticed a light drizzle on the windshield. We were in the middle of absolutely nowhere and we saw a hellish looking storm on the horizon. If we would have had a single ounce of sound reasoning between the two of us, we would have taken the next exit and called it a night.

Instead we drove on.

The black clouds on the horizon started to get closer and the bursts of lightning started to become more frequent.

Still we pressed on.

The wind picked up and the rain morphed from drips, to drizzle to actual “avoid walking the dog, it is too rainy” storm pellets. My brother and I were both born and raised just outside of Seattle so we are handicapped with an overconfidence of dealing with rain. Unfortunately for us, this wasn’t just rain, it was an unavoidable sky flood.

We knew we had gone too far when we saw a Walmart semi-truck jackknifed in the road ahead of us. Just like that movie image that we have all seen many times before, the spun out semi-truck was illuminated by a dramatic flash of lighting. Instead of beads of rain hitting the windshield, we entered a scene that was equivalent to driving under a waterfall. I half expected to look out the window and see a cow fly by and finally get to steal a line from Twister when the same cow flew by again.

The memory of this drive barged into my head tonight as I was pondering my current situation. Interestingly, it was just the context I needed to tie up my thought loose ends.

I am currently sitting on a British Airways flight flying from LAX to LHR (Los Angeles to London). It is hour six of eleven and I am already feeling the slight mental dullness of the recycled air and the soreness caused by a lack of movement.

I was questioning my now too late to turn back European trip and musing about what the next couple of months might bring. Occasional uncertainty is normal and not something I really ever worry about. It is just part of being human. What was noteworthy about this time was that I saw the unknown of the months to come in the context of that stormy night drive.

Life it seems is a lot like that night I was driving with my brother. Even though I can only see a few feet ahead of me at any given point, I know that if I use what I have learned in the past to navigate, I will inevitably make progress.

That night we eventually made it to our destination simply by following the double yellow lines in the middle of the road until we had got to a place where we could turn off the road. We followed the lines because we didn’t know what else to do and we at least knew how they fit into the bigger picture of the road.

Similarly, I know that moving to Argentina was a really important step in my life and I can see just far enough ahead to think that Spain will be a similarly good move. From what I can see tell, I am going in a good direction. I just have absolutely no idea where the destination will be.

Each moment that forms around me is a moment I have never experienced before. On the worst of days, the best I can do is draw upon past experience. On the best of days, I am in over my head and all I can do is smile dumbly.

In life and on the road I have absolutely no control over the scene around me. Sometimes it will be sunny and sometimes it will rain. What makes life interesting is that occasionally the scene outside will include something unfamiliar that is neither sun nor rain.

It is for these times that I pursue my bucket list. I have no idea how things fit together or where it will take me. All I know for certain is that building a bucket list is my way of influencing the double yellow lines of my life. It is through this process that I become storm proof.

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  • Yikes! I have only experienced driving in one storm that ever scared me-and I doubt it was remotely on a par with your experience, but I really didn’t want to drive any further in that scenario.

    How long are you in London for? I live just an hour from LHR! I think Annette is over in the UK at the moment too! Bizarre

    • Hey Emma,

      Driving in the storm was well worth it. I learned a lot, didn’t die and got a crazy experience to think back on.

      I am actually in the process of moving to Spain. (I am starting the European leg of my bucket list). It looks like I am going to grab drinks with Annette in Barcelona next week. Any way you could join us?

      (For others reading this comment, Annette is the person behind ‘Bucket List Journey – http://mslistologist.com/‘. Also check out Emma’s blog, http://emmasbucketlist.com , as well. It is one of my favorite reads!)

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