Slow down, get lost

Today, when I was driving home from work, I decided to let my natural sense of direction take over. I have been living in California for over a month at this point, so I thought it an appropriate time to ditch my reliance on GPS and venture out.

As I exited the work platform I headed West, then turned onto the 101 South after about a mile. So far, so good. As I rocked out to “About an Hour Ago” by OAR, I was feeling good. I knew exactly where I was going. It was a pretty great feeling to finally get a hang of these ridiculous California freeways, especially after coming from the simple corn field infested roads of Illinois.

Then things got a bit hairy. As the exit I usually take approached quickly, I began to question as to if there was a shortcut, a faster route, to my home. At this point, my driving confidence was at an all-time high, so I went for it. I passed up my traditional exit and began my adventure.

Needless to say, my sense of direction was completely and totally out of whack. I spent the next ten minutes trying to rationalize what landmarks looked familiar and which entirely foreign. All the while, I was able to explore my neighborhood, discovering local gems like an authentic Italian restaurant and an intriguing consignment shop. Even though I wasn’t necessarily getting closer to my destination, I was enjoying the scenery, music, and moment.

Growing weary, I decided to pull aside, and punch in my home address into Google Maps. Naturally, I was headed the complete wrong direction, but, on the whole, was not too far from my homestead. As I drove back I realized something: while I was technically lost and not productively finding my way back home, I was extremely content. The ability to learn more about my surrounding community and overall, just let go of outcome, felt quite liberating.

Very often, our generation gets caught up in instant gratification, taking minuscule fractions of time to actively enjoy the process that leads you to the reward. I think that we can all benefit from slowing down and consciously paying attention to the details of the interactions we have and actions we perform. Instead of turning on autopilot and maximum efficiency in everything we do, it pays to be present occasionally.

Next time you are not in a rush, take some time to get lost. Turn on your favorite album and just drive. Admire the beauty and freedom of the open road. You never know what you may find.

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