I was driving from Houston to California for the third time and vowed NOT to take Route 10, ever again. When I got to a cross-road, I just took whatever road headed WEST.
That choice set up one of my favorite experiences of my entire Year by the Water travels.
Many people think of Texas as dry and barren, but its famous hill country surprised me with its rolling, sweeping vistas. I was driving at my favorite time of day – golden hour – the gentle moments just before the sun goes down and the air calms and becomes a transcendent shimmery gold.
I crested a hill and there, spread out on all sides of me, were golden fields stretched out to the horizon.
In awe, I pulled over and shut off the car engine.
The only sound was a slight breeze through a nearby tree. Otherwise, it was majestically silent.
I was completely immersed in the moment. Blissfully connected. One with everything.
Connected? How could I feel connected? There was no one around.
But there’s all kinds of connection. There’s connection to a moment, to the magnificence of nature, to how grateful I felt for being alive and present right there, right then.
I smile as I think of the most frequently asked question on my travels: “Don’t you ever get lonely?”
The answer to that was a resounding NO.
What I felt was … connected.
Connected to my family and friends who were with me even when they weren’t with me.
Connected to the people I met, the experiences I had.
People also asked if I got “bored” driving cross-country by myself.
Once again, the answer was an emphatic NO.
When I was driving along for hours (or days) at a time; I wasn’t bored, I was 100% engaged in the ideas and stories shared on my favorite podcasts – Guy Raz and How I Built This on NPR, Jonathan Fields with the Good Life Project.
I was completely engaged in discovering and exploring new places, of never knowing what was around the next corner, over the next knoll.
It’s as crystal clear to me now as it was then.
If I ever felt lonely or bored; it meant I wasn’t paying attention.
As I said good-bye – and thank you – to those sacred golden fields and drove away, I turned on the Audible book I was listening to (Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit) just in time to hear her say, “Every creative project needs a spine.”
What an intriguing insight. I wondered, “What’s the spine of this adventure, of my life?”
The answer came to me, clear as a bell, “Discovery is my North Star, connection is my Holy Grail. Loving and being loved is the spine of my life.”
And what I know deep within my soul, as a result of my Year by the Water, is we don’t have to be with other people to be engaged and connected – we just need to be alert and appreciative of the wonders that surround us, all day, every day.
We are never really alone.
If we truly pay attention to what’s around us, we are all one.
We are complete, content.
The connection we seek is, literally and figuratively, a moment’s notice away.