Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows.
President Thomas S. Monson
Finding Joy in the Journey, General Conference, 2008
Yesterday I returned home from a quick road trip with my EC. We had a chance to get away, and jumped at it. One of my favorite parts about a trip like this is the actual drive. I have always enjoyed driving, either alone, or with my wife. Sometimes a drive with my kids is OK, but sometimes they interfere what I enjoy most about the drive itself. I have noticed that, over the years, I have developed several different styles of road trip driving:
1) Quiet Solitude. I have found my car to be a very wonderful sanctuary for deep thought when I am driving alone. Sometimes quiet classical music adds to the peace, sometimes it detracts. Often I have been able to have the Spirit accompany me on long drives and guide my thoughts. Sometimes it yields wonderful inspiration and decisions. Sometimes it pushes me towards repentance and recommitment.
Years ago I had an hour commute to work everyday - unfortunately I always seemed to be listening to music, or talk radio - neither of which are very conducive to meditation. Especially talk radio. I have learned over the years that I am a happier man when I turn it off. In retrospect, I now feel that I used that time poorly. Now, I am blessed with a commute of less than three miles. I can't even have a good argument with myself in three miles.
Sometimes I forget and go into the Quiet Solitude mode when I am traveling with my wife. Oops! It usually results in her asking me if I am OK. Sometimes we both sit and enjoy the peace. But most of the time, we are in...
2) Deep Conversation. Some of the best, and most impacting conversations I have ever had with my wife are when we are on the open road. We are both accustomed to this, and look forward to it when we travel. We talk about life, memories, kids, callings, gospel, politics, finances, pop culture, and anything else that his us. Remarkable that after 25 years together we still always have things to talk about.
The decision to move forward and have another kid developed from this type of road trip conversation. Twice. (And you thought gas was the expensive part of driving.)
3) Turn it Up & Sing Along! The joy of iPods! How great to be able to listen to any of my music, whenever I want. Sometimes I make playlists for specific trips - a holdover from my earlier "mix-tape" life.
When I need to stay awake, I just need some loud music, a soda, and my own vocal chords. Yes, I sing when I am driving. I truly do not understand how my wife puts up with it - because she rarely sings. I also have a phenomenal memory when it comes to lyrics. I can't remember the name of the sister that sat next to us at church, but I can remember every word to a song that I have not heard for 30 years.
So, when we aren't in a big discussion, or quietly thinking, the music is on, and I am usually singing. Of course to me, I sound fabulous. And my sweet wife is too kind to complain. Either that or she is starting to have some hearing loss in her left ear.
On family trips, I usually only resort to this when the kids have on headsets to play games/watch movies/listen to their own music, and the EC has dosed off. Then the vehicle transforms into my private mobile karaoke bar.
4) Best Dad in the World Mode. Sometimes I will let one of my children be the DJ. They plug their iPod in and play what they want to play. I do however, reserve "Veto Power". I can tell the DJ to skip any song I choose. They might whine a bit, but they quickly learn what not to play. (All of my kids know that Jack Johnson and Mumford and Sons will earn a fast kiss of death.) It does help me stay a little more current on the music they are listening to - and often I find new stuff that I really like, and then steal from them.
One version of this is to give the DJ my iPod and let them play anything they want. It often seems to end up on U2, or classic rock. So strange that my kids are listening to Aerosmith - just like I was 35 years ago. (But not in the car: Dad was always listening to 'the News" - on AM radio. So we sang and drove him crazy.)
Things That Don't Work for Me:
1) More than two or three Conference talks at a time. I get snoozy.
2) Audio Books. I read a lot faster than I listen - so my tiny brain tends to wander and I lose track of what is happening.
3) Country music.
4) Scriptures. There should be a clause in my insurance policy banning me from listening to audio scriptures to prevent a single-car collision. (Besides, cross-referencing and marking is tough when you dong 75 on the freeway.)
5) Sports. The fact that there is actually a Golf Channel on XM is beyond me.
So you may ask "What is the point of this post?" I guess the only point is that I like driving. I find it therapeutic, intimate, peaceful, bonding and enlightening.
Though rarely at the same time.
I do feel like hitting the open road again, ASAP.