Learning to Trust the Journey
I am a perpetually late person. There’s lots of articles out there that defend chonically late people by saying we’re actually more optimistic, that we’re more successful, and less stressed. But I know it’s a pain in the ass for others to deal with, so in 2018, it was one of my resolutions to be EARLY to events and meetings.
Overall, it was and is still a success. I would say I am a “punctual” person about 85% of the time, which is a vast improvement over where I was. But that 15%… man, it still gets me. And the time it REALLY messed with me? Baxa family Christmas, 2018.
In an effort to NOT be late, I set my alarm clock for a full 2 hours before I needed to leave my city. Plenty of time to get ready, take stuff to the car, grab coffee, get gas, and get on the highway. It takes me about 3 hours to get from my house to the small town we usually hold family gatherings in, so my 8:30am highway time was going to put where I needed to be by 11:30am – a full 30 minutes before the event would start. #NailedIt
But that didn’t happen. Instead, I was so engrossed in the audiobook I was listening to that I completely missed the exit to head west, and instead ended up in an unfamiliar town about 40 miles away from where I needed to be.
I was FURIOUS. With life, with the stupid audiobook, with myself for being late YET AGAIN to another family function.
In literal tears, I called my mom, and told her with despair that I had missed the exit and asked for directions to Christmas. She calmly told me where to go as I sobbed apology after apology because I was now going to be 15 minutes late instead of 30 minutes early.
As I headed towards my family down a winding, two-lane, no-shoulder country highway, I had a strong sense of deja vu. I had been on this road before. I knew those trees. Is that… is this the curve I took too fast when I was 15, driving with my mom to clock hours for my learner’s permit?
As I turned a corner, I audibly gasped. I was in Randall, this tiny little town was where my grandma and grandpa Baxa had lived for my entire childhood. And their small, green house – a place that was always stuffed full with people, positive memories, and love, stood directly in front of me.
Until I was standing there, I had no idea how much I needed to see this place. It had been a rough month, and I was battling high levels of anxiety and mild depression. I parked my car and stared at the house, thinking about the time my cousin and I stole grandma’s riding lawn mower to drive to the co-op for sodas. About the treehouse across the street. About walking the train tracks behind grandma’s house for hours with my cousins and brother, collecting our treasures in small tins and burying them in the garden. It was a surreal moment, and I found myself crying again, but these tears were tears of absolute joy. I laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of my childhood antics and said a quick prayer of thanks for such a blessed and wonderful childhood, full of love and adventure and companionship.
And I had to stop and ask myself, how had this happened? How had I just stumbled upon this almost-sacred place? How had I found this feeling of happiness and joy that was surging through my body, which I desperately needed, without any planning or intention? Could this really be happening on accident?
No. It was happening because I missed the exit. Because I missed the exit.
I got lost. And I found joy.
Sometimes, life has this way of knowing what you need, and it throws you into it. And you may get upset. You might cry about it. You might even fight it. But life knows. And it pushes you in the deep end, anyway.
And you’ll lose your bearings for a minute. You’ll struggle to find your footing. You’ll get lost. But in that moment of uncertainty, you’ll find clarity. A moment that’s just a little bit too cooincidental, too much what you needed, and you’ll know that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, even if you didn’t plan it.
That moment? That’s when you’ll learn to trust the journey.
Until next time – don’t forget to Sparkle.