Earlier this week, I drove to pick up my two daughters. It was a bitterly cold day with temperatures hovering around -45 degrees celsius and I had an hour drive. Those kind of temperatures scare me and I would much prefer to stay inside under a warm afghan, then be out on the highway in a vehicle that could freeze up. It was already dark outside as evening was approaching. I don’t do well driving in the dark because I have depth perception challenges and I don’t see very well out of my right eye. But my daughters needed a ride home and I was the only one who could go and get them.
I sent a text to my sister who lives almost 2 hours away telling her where I was going and what time I was expected back. Even though there was nothing she could do to help, it felt better knowing that someone else was aware of my little adventure. After warming up my car, I headed out on to the highway. With my hands gripping the steering wheel, I kept track of the landmarks as I passed them. I talked to myself “I just have to make it to the stop sign, then I just have to make it to the turn-off and so on.” I was aware of every slippery patch of ice on the highway and of every time I slowed down when the snow ruts made my car bounce from side to side. I was aware of how the moon peeked out from under the clouds. I was acutely aware of the lights from other vehicles passing me. I could feel my adrenaline rush, how my stomach was doing cartwheels and how much tension I was carrying in my shoulders. Each time I reached a landmark, I thanked God that I was okay.
I reached my destination in time to pick up my daughters and we headed home. On the way home, I was aware of the snow that was falling and blowing across the highway, but I was not consumed with anxiety because I was listening to my daughters tell me of their exciting weekend. I drove the exact same route home, in the same frigid temperatures and the same highway conditions as I had going there, but somehow the dark didn’t seem as overwhelming.
As I journey on the path of life, I often feel overwhelmed by the obstacles along the way. I am aware of how afraid I feel and carry the tension in my body as if it is an extra limb. I brag to others about how challenging life is and how I am a survivor. But I want to be more than a survivor, I want to experience all that living on this earth has to offer. It is when I focus on my daughters or my students that I find the strength and wisdom to navigate through the valleys and over the mountains along the path. When I focus on those around me I experience the same tensions and feelings as when my focus is on me, but the struggles and challenges don’t feel so burdensome and life feels more like an adventure.
Where is your focus? Feel free to leave a comment and we can journey on the path together.