In the summer, my morning’s commute has me staring into the rising sun. It is very blinding. There are cars that speed towards me but I don’t really give them a second thought. The warmth of the sun on my face is welcoming. I have some sharp turns in the road on my way into work. It is all highway, so speed is a factor as well. In the winter, I have nothing but total darkness on my commute. All those cars that are now speeding towards me with their lights on can be just as blinding. For a split second as they pass, I am trusting my judgement to keep my vehicle between the lines. There are still the same sharp turns and I still travel on the same highway.
As I drove this morning, cursing someone for not turning his high beams off, I realized that life is that way sometimes too. There are times in our life the darkness is scary. It envelopes you. It makes you only see a very short distance on all sides of you. It makes you question just how far that sharp turn really is. Sometimes I don’t realize I am already at that turn until I am entering it. I take my foot off the accelerator and the vehicle slows itself down enough for me to handle the turn. I don’t stop. That would be silly. I just slow down a bit to navigate the road a little better. But there are times when I have hammered on the breaks to avoid a collision with a moose that is in a certain area. He seems to think he can come and go across the road as he pleases!! It is no different when the sun is shining. That light can be extremely blinding as I push the gas pedal down to maintain my speed to get to work. I try to adjust my sun visor to enable me to see better but sometimes that sun and my position on the road just don’t cooperate enough to block it out. I have my sunglasses on but even those are not enough to shield my eyes from the glare.
I have travelled this particular highway many many times in my life. My Dad was born and raised a little further down the highway from where I work. There is still family that lives out this way. As a young child, I looked forward to trips out to the farm. To run free! Chasing the animals on the farm or building forts in the hay stacked up so high. As a teenager, I looked forward to coming out here for other reasons of freedom! To run wild with friends that I made out here. Whether it was on a quad or Skidoo or just sitting in someone’s barn drinking. There were fewer rules out at the farm then there were in the city, so I very much enjoyed escaping my parents to have that extra freedom. I didn’t drive the highway back then, but it is still the same one.
My first trip on this highway after I accepted the job, I took the old familiar route. Then someone told me about a road that would cut my time by a couple of minutes. I tried it. Yup, it definitely saved me some time. It is my new trusted path to work. Over the last 3 months, I have travelled this path many many times. It is almost never the same. Some days I see more traffic than others. Some days the snow makes the trip a little more of an adventure. Some days that moose decides he wants to cross the road. Some days the gravel trucks take up more of my lane than I would like.
My realization this morning was that life is a lot like this. While I am travelling a familiar path, I am experiencing so many different joys, sharp turns, sudden surprises and glaring realizations along that path. Some days I have to take my foot off the accelerator in order to navigate a little better. Some days my thoughts have me come to a dead stop. Other times, things present themselves to me that scare me a little. Many days, I am often in awe at the beauty around me that when the light shines just right, I realize I have not seen before. I have caught myself pulling over on the side of the road more often lately to take a picture of the rising or setting sun. I have stopped to just take in the beauty of the hoar frost covering the trees. I have cursed some assholes for shining their lights too bright for me to see my way. Much like life.
So the road is the same; it has not changed. The sun is the same; it has not changed. The winter darkness it the same; it has not changed. The other travellers, the moose, the bridges, the sharp turns; none of that has changed. My path is still the same. It is me that has changed. I have adjusted to it.
I have no doubt that every morning as I leave my house to set out on that familiar drive, that I will likely encounter something that I have not encountered yet. I don’t know what, but I know it will be there. And I am excited to see what that might be.