Life Without Cruise Control

Today I decided was going to be different. Let’s back up. I had planned my eight hour drive to Wintergreen Resort in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia a few days ago. As I always do, I used Google Maps to plot my course before the trip, and I found two options; Option 1: The Scenic Route; Option 2: The Interstate. Both options were within 20 minutes of each other, so I immediately chose Option 2 because I knew these roads, and therefore knew what to expect. It’s all about minimizing risk,… right? Hmmm I don’t think so.

Favorite greeting card with the perfect message

Fast forward to today. I got in my car, programmed Hugh (my GPS with the Australian male voice), and sat for a few moments while he found his satellite connection. Hugh picked the Scenic Route for me…so I sat in my driveway and reconsidered my decision. The voices in my head started up: What if I break down in the middle of nowhere? What if I get a flat tire? What if I get stuck behind a slow car? What if I get lost? Could my day turn in a Stephen King novel or an episode of Vampire Diaries? Hmmmm.

Then I shifted my view of what my day could be like.

What if I see a part of SC and NC that I hadn’t seen before? How could the adventure of these twists and turns on the scenic route give me energy for the drive? What unexpected stops might I enjoy along the way? All of a sudden, I remembered one of my favorite family car trips as a child where Dad drove us along a creek just to see if he could find a place to eat lunch – and we ended up finding a little waterfall. Could my day be memorable like that day 30+ years ago?

Listening to Casey Kasem’s best hits of 1983 on the radio and feeling inspired to have a new experience, I put my trust in Hugh and off we went. The trip started great – singing along to Lionel Richie, Culture Club, Falco, and Men at Work, I was feeling both energized and peaceful. I lost Casey’s signal about 2 hours in…so I plugged in the iPod and hoped for the best as I pulled off the Interstate and onto State Road 52 in Florence. Ahhh…all was right with the world…Blue Sky set the tone for the next few hundred miles as I let my iPod shuffle my music and I explored places like Society Hill and Cheraw, SC. I can’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed behind the wheel of a car – not one orange cone or truck in sight.

As I drove, I thought about how different this drive was than it could have been. If I had taken Option 2 – I would have programmed my cruise control – and gotten annoyed every time a bad driver forced me to click the brake to release it. Maybe even more than annoyed. Probably more than annoyed. I would have been on the SAME highway I have taken probably hundreds of times…yes I would have known what to expect – really boring highway with trucks and drivers who don’t know how to use the left lane properly. I would have arrived after eight hours exhausted, hyped up on caffeine and would have had trouble falling asleep.

Instead, here I was feeling connected…peaceful, and yet full of energy. Hugh was my co-pilot keeping me from getting lost, not a gadget that I had to “beat”. I felt happy that I took the “road less travelled” and vowed to be wary of the temptations and security of cruise control in my future.

And then I started thinking about what this shift in outlook could have on my life in general.

What could my life be like if I took a different path? Yes – most of the time I have a destination (or a goal) in mind. But what new possibilities could exist for me if I chose another way to get there? Could I feel the same energy – the same peacefulness, the same connectivity between my head and my heart that I was feeling right now? What could my life be without cruise control?

What WILL my life be without cruise control?

2 thoughts on “Life Without Cruise Control

  1. Great perspective Laurie. I really like the idea of – same goals different paths. I think this is so true today more than ever. We miss so much with this muti-tasking, hyper productivity, constantly connected, always-on professional lifestyle. People set and achieve goals, and map out and arrive at destinations without paying close enough to the experience of “getting there.” The experience of getting there is many times where the real value lies. Sometime a vacation is more about the trip to and from than the destination.

  2. I love your idea of cruise control. It made me think of habits and how good it feels to stretch and break those habits. Because if we put on the cruise control, whose life is it then? I’m so glad you enjoyed your journey.

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