It’s been a while since I wrote about this, hasn’t it. Whoops. Lucky you, though, I found a few moments to write the conclusion to my summer ‘road trip through life.’ Go ahead and review parts one and two since it’s been like three weeks. Again, so sorry.
And yeah, I know that propulsion makes it sound like I’m talking about the Starship Voyager (if your nerd alert didn’t go off just then, get it checked) but it’s the best term I could find to describe the last and final part of my road trip.
We’ve already been through what you need to prepare for a stellar journey, who you have with you, and now we’re looking the big reveal right in the eye: what makes the whole trip actually happen.
What drives your life?
How do you decide where to go and what to do?
I mean, there are a lot of choices to consider when you’re planning a trip. It’s a whole big world out there, and you can go anywhere you want – so how do you decide where to go? Or even what route to take to get there?
These questions remind me of an episode of Friends, wherein Joey is faced with a decision: Northern route or Southern route. Beard of bees or chicken that plays tic-tac-toe? An age-old question, to be sure.
Now, because Phoebe isn’t around all the time to help us decide with her no-thinking game, it’s up to us. We have to sift through not only ourselves, but also all of the outside input we get.
There are always outside influences on our life’s journey. Or, as Thank You for Smoking puts it,
“There will always be people trying to tell you what to do and how to think.”
True dat, Aaron Eckhart – or whoever wrote your lines.
When we come to a fork in the road, a split in our journey, we have to do one thing that I loathe more than anything else in the world. We have to be a grown up. We have to make….a decision.
I really fucking hate making decisions.
Truly. It’s the worst. There are not words strong enough in the English language – or Spanish, for that matter – to express my profound loathing of decision-making.
I mean, there are usually so many choices and so many ways to be wrong, I get flustered. I wish that Lisa Kudrow was around to play that game with me.
But as I learn to actually make these important decisions, I do have one piece of wisdom to share with everyone. It’s the secret to being happy with your decision, no matter whether it’s right or wrong.
You need to make sure to listen to yourself.
Don’t pay ANY attention to those people Mr. Eckhart refers to – make up your own mind (for reals, though cigarettes are bad for you).
Yeah, maybe there was a better choice. But if you listen to that internal voice and do what jives with your life philosophy best, at least you can say that you made the right choice for you at the time. Of course, to do this, we have to know a little bit about our big picture.
The thing is, we occasionally forget that every car needs one thing to make it go. Usually when our budget is tight or we’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper, standstill traffic.
We forget how important it is to put a few gallons of gas in the car.
When we’re talking about life, gas is whatever lights a fire under you.
What are you passionate about?
What inspires you to action?
What creates flow in your life?
That’s your gas, your fuel.
For a while, your parents are responsible for the supply, just like actual gas. They give you limits, they front the cash, and they’re the ones who teach you how to even pump it in the first place. And that’s great. It’s very formative.
But eventually, you’re driving on your own, in your own direction. And suddenly, you’re the one calling the shots.
Premium or regular?
Fill up at quarter-tank or when the light comes on?
Use a credit card or pay cash?
Mom and Dad aren’t there with you, only in the background as a safety net. So you’ve got to figure out for yourself what you really want. I know it’s tempting to listen to friends and let them make the decision for you, or even consult trustworthy publications. And that’s fine. Do your research. But when it comes down to it, whatever decision you make cannot be for someone else.
In my case, I’ve known for quite some time what kind of gas I’m putting in my tank.
My go-juice is helping people. For real. It’s that simple. My purpose in life is to help people in the most effective and far-reaching way that I can. Right now, that’s being a teacher. Eventually, that might be publishing a book or working to teach sexual education in third world countries. A girl can dream, eh?
For a long time, I searched for better wording, or a deeper meaning to this life calling…and then I realized how lucky I am. All I have to do to fulfill myself is to make someone else’s life better. And I can do that – we all can. So that’s what motivates me, what drives every single decision that I make about my life.
Of course, just because I’ve fueled up doesn’t mean that you can punch the gas and shoot off into the future. I’m not Michael J. Fox, and I hope to GOD I’ll never drive a Delorian. We still have outside factors to consider – there are other drivers on the road. And let’s not forget that no road trip is ever complete without a major mishap.
Sometimes you get stuck in traffic. Other times you may have inclement weather, like that one time I drove halfway from CoMo to Dallas in a blizzard. There are times when you’ll get a blow-out or overheat your engine. Or – God forbid – you may get picked up by a twista, spun around, and dropped off in not-Kansas.
That last one’s not so bad…at least you’re not in Kansas, anymore.
But no matter how it happens, it happens, and suddenly that purpose-filled trip is thrown off schedule, if not off course.
You think you’re going down one path, and somehow, through no fault of your own navigation – or a lot of fault in your navigation – you discover that your journey isn’t going as you planned. There’s been a hiccup.
Don’t panic. It’s okay. As I said, it happens.
What you need to remember is that what’s most important isn’t how long it took you to get there. It isn’t how expensive the trip was, or even the obstacles you faced along the road. In fact, it really isn’t even how you got there, how many times you had to turn around and go back to that fork in the road and try again.
What’s important is the trip itself, and how it has molded you into the person you are today.