Back from my amazing summer excursion, a month long drive through Spain! Well, I mean, I didn’t do any of the driving, my partner did. See, I only know how to drive an automatic and since we have a stick here in Belgium, my partner kindly agreed to do all the driving. In total it ended up being close to 5000 kilometers and he did beautifully without so much as a complaint. Nice, huh?
My part in this adventure was to be the navigator. A role that I take with great relish and responsibility! I had my several large maps along with the trip planner for each leg printed out from the internet. I would sit in the passenger seat with the big detail map open on my lap and the turn by turn internet guide at close reach (oh, and I was also in charge of the CD’s – but I digress).
Everything all prepared for, right? No surprises, right? Well, not exactly. While we were totally prepped about 80% of the time, there were still a few glitches. Occasionally, the signs on the roads – I mean even the road numbers – were different than what they were supposed to be. We would be going along just fine and then everything would change suddenly and without warning. No names or directions or numbers matched anything remotely familiar. I, of course, went into a tizzy. Flipping pages, shuffling papers, barking at Brad all because I was venturing into uncharted territory.
I mean I was ticked! This was absolutely not the way it was supposed to be. Those silly traffic people putting up these confusing signs – I mean, didn’t they know what I needed? Thus I began the “blame game” – the stupid internet map people, the stupid sign people, the stupid government and finally, stupid me. (Hmmm, coaching opportunity here? Read on.)
Then there was the event of entering a new city for the first time. More often than not, while our maps were terrific they did not give the detail that we needed in each individual city to be able to totally navigate where we wanted to go. The internet map was our savior here, but still... in every city the street signs were in different places and the names for the streets weren’t always what we were expecting. Picture this: two guys and their dog, in some big city in Spain circling on one of those “roundabouts” over and over trying to figure out which off-shoot we should take and which direction all the while dodging incoming and out going drivers who grew up on these roads and are late for work. I hope that image makes you smile, it does me – at least now looking back.
Inevitably, we always made it to our destination and usually without a hitch. In fact sometimes, when things would look hopeless and nothing was familiar, we would wander and see what came up and strangely enough all of a sudden we would be right where we needed to be and in a better spot than we could have ever planned with all the maps in the world.
I learned several things from this that actually shook me up a bit. Here are a few of the lessons that I got:
• If you stare at the route on the map too much you miss some amazing scenery.
• Most of the time, the signs are very clear and point you in the direction of the destination. When they don’t, you can choose to a) get all agitated and scared fearing that you might “fall of the edge of the earth,” or b) adventure into the unknown, look for things you recognize and back track when necessary – remember the world won’t come to an end.
• When you are stuck on a roundabout and you feel the pressure of everyone else zipping in and out on familiar territory, remember that a) with time, this can become familiar territory for you too; b) the roundabout is there to help you get where you want to go; c) after a couple spins around, make a decision and go for it – after all you can always back track!
• New situations can be disorienting. Accept that and relax into the adventure as best you can.
• Learn to drive a stick when you are young – not profound but simply the truth!
Next time we will talk about the joys of wandering and finding unexpected gems! Below you will find some experiments to help you enjoy the journey more and worry less!