We’re on one of those really long family road trips. The kind that parenting experts advise will imprint fond memories on your children’s psyche. (How’s that for guilt?) And the kind on which you never leave home without a bottle of Tylenol and your favorite cup of strongly caffeinated, black coffee.
So, as we’re driving, and watching the scenic countryside, I try to forget that my cramped legs desperately need a stretch. Instead I reframe and feel super-proud of my parenting skills in providing my children with emotional equilibrium as well as life-long family memories.
I’m sure they’ll never forget the never-ending quests for sugary snacks, the onslaught of super charged comments like: “are we here yet?” “I’m soooo bored!” and “why ARE we going?!” Not to mention the endless squabbles.
I know I sure won’t.
It’s getting darker outside. It’s a summer rainstorm-huge claps of thunder and frightening streaks of lightening and a flood of heavy rain.
As the noise from the passenger seats of our van gets (it must be even-fonder-family-memories being formed), I’m starting to have my doubts about whether we really are on the right track. (Not a good idea to share with stressed-out-in-the-driver’s-seat-husband.) But the doubts have crept into my consciousness and won’t go away. Have we missed our exit? Taken a wrong turn? (An even worse suggestion to offer to now-even-more-stressed-out-husband.) And my worst personal fear-are we almost out of gas?
It’s been an awfully long time since I spotted the last sign offering any direction. And the darker it becomes, the harder I strain to see ahead.
And then, when the despair is almost reaching a fever pitch, I see it. Just another couple of hundred feet–a rest stop.
Time to stop. Time for a stretch. Time to regroup, refocus and remind everyone why we’re on this journey, with one another, to begin with. Time to store up on fresh, cold drinks, new sweets, fuel for the car, and high-powered energy for those driving it.
Time also to get directions. To re-evaluate and make sure that we’re on the best route.
I heave a sigh of relief. Intuitively, I know that once we get back on the road, everyone will be far more calm and sure of where they are heading.
Our lives, too, are one long journey. Along the way, we each have our personal missions that we’re here to accomplish–some big and all-encompassing; others, smaller, but nevertheless just as important in the overall picture.
Unlike our long car trip, our life’s journey isn’t about the destination, but the paths taken throughout. But still, as we pass through the various intersections of our lives, sometimes, through it all, life’s tediousness bogs us down. The nuances along the way may cramp our style, make us thirsty, irritated or even give us a throbbing headache. Sometimes, we even forget our destination or why we’re here. There are moments when the journey can seem pointless, monotonous or hopelessly frustrating.
And then, we sight it. Off in the distance, a few days ahead on our desktop calendars, is our rest stop – our holidays, or moadim, specially set times, interspersed throughout our year.
These set special days are our opportunities to reload, to fill up on spiritual nourishment (not to mention the oh-so-fattening-and-oh-so-sugary-culinary delicacies that we’ll be oh-so-sorry-to-have-eaten-later ), direction and reconnection. Time to become reinvigorated, to refocus on our journey, why we’re here, where we’re heading and to evaluate if we’re taking the best possible route.
So, enjoy the drive. Don’t miss out on the glorious beauty of the scenery (or the kids). And take real good advantage of those rest stops all along the way.