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?