I am driving from Houston to California for the third time and vow NOT to go through El Paso or take Route 10, ever again. When I get to a cross-road, I just took whatever road heads WEST. That choice sets up one of my favorite experiences of the entire trip.
Many people think of Texas as dry and barren, but its famous hill country surprised me with its rolling, sweeping vistas. I'm 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 crest a hill and discover a golden field stretched out in front of me to the horizon. In awe, I pull over and shut off the car engine. The only sound is a slight breeze through a nearby tree. Otherwise, it is majestically silent. I'm completely immersed in the moment. I feel blissfully connected. One with everything.
Connected? How could I feel connected? There's no one around.
But there's all kinds of connection. There's connection to the place, to the magnificence of nature, and to how grateful I feel for being alive and present in that moment.
I smile as I think about the most frequently asked question on my Year by the Water: "Don't you ever get lonely?”
The answer to that is a resounding NO. What I feel is … connected. Connected to my family and friends who are with me even when they’re not with me. Connected to the Audible books I listen to, to the places I've discovered, the people I've met, the experiences I've had.
People also asked if I get "bored" driving cross-country by myself.
Once again, the answer is an emphatic NO.
When I am driving along for hours (or days) at a time; I'm not bored, I'm 100% engaged in the ideas and stories shared by these insightful authors. I'm completely engaged in discovering and exploring new places, of never knowing what's over the next knoll.
It's crystal clear to me. If I ever feel lonely or bored; it means I'm not paying attention.
As I say good-bye - and thank you - to this sacred spot and drive away, I turn on the Audible book I'm 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 wonder, "What's the spine of this adventure, of my life?"
The answer comes 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 this 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 our surroundings, we are all one. We are complete, content. The connection we seek is, literally and figuratively, a moment's notice away.