We went on a lot of road trips when I was a kid. They’ve always been a staple spirit food for my inner adventure maven. It doesn’t matter how long or short the trip is, mountains or desert, canyon or coastal, grassland or cityscape; I’ve always loved the drive.
Rain or shine, music or silence, conversation or deep inner thought–the hum of asphalt has ever been a place of self-recovery. I do my best plotting, writing and arc mapping on the highways.
However, when I was a kid, road trips weren’t always so Zen. Road Zen is a learned.
My father obviously loved the road. He loved showing his kids long stretches of America, and entertaining a captive audience with his stories. Perhaps I also got the story bug from these long sojourns.
Anywhoo, recently I was reminded of his very practical and efficient way of stopping the incessant kiddo anxiety and query, “Are we there yet?”
I was checking my email for the hundredth time in fifteen minutes, running through my to-do list to see if there was anything I could tick to the next level, flipping through my planner looking for a blank evening to schedule a girl’s night, then back to my email, again. Wondering, “Why am I not farther down the pipeline, already? There should be slack in my line by now? Don’t I have anything I can shove off at this point?”
I felt the urge to whine, “Are we there yet?”
Dad’s voice rose in my mind, his deep, resonant, lackadaisical drawl, “Athena, don’t you know?” *long dramatic pause* “That wherever you go…” *longer dramatic pause, followed by a weary enlightened master’s sigh* “There you are…”
There was never getting a time or destination answer out of him. After about four are we there yets getting that exact reply…you just didn’t ask anymore and learned to read the highway signs with your mouth shut.
The signs certainly didn’t say, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
He often followed up with, “Be here, Athena. Look at those mountains. Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”
He taught me to appreciate the journey more. I stopped really worrying about if we were there yet, and began falling in love with the painted canyons of southern Utah, or the flat open fields of Montana. I got better at recognizing the mirages over uneven surfaces along the Arizona flats, and spotting coyote on the side of the road before my dad noticed, which always warranted one of his retellings of “this one time a coyote…”
Even as I got older and my driver’s license and wheels allowed me unlimited access to Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest, I’ve never forgotten the rule: Pause. Breathe. Acknowledge where you are. Right here. Right now. Be in it.
As I bustled around in my imagined hurry, trying to tick off boxes and get ready for what seemed important at the time, but probably wasn’t, I realized I wasn’t in it at all right then.
Project management pipelines, and project flows exist for this reason. In corporate functions, or small business, indie, or even day-to-day project scheduling, we put the pipeline in place so we don’t HAVE to fuss after it. Letting it loose down a pathway means we don’t have to have anxiety, or worry, until it misses a key point. Build the pipeline. Put projects in the grooves to run with minimal effort. Set reminders to nudge at specific set-points. Only push when you must.
So why was I stressing so hard? We’ll get there. We’re already on the road. The course is set, just breathe.
Enjoy the view.
“Look at those mountains. Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”
Again, I was overcomplicating it, trying to rush through for no good reason. I built the pathway for this purpose, so I could have more creation time, lower stress, and a healthier social life—all while still being highly productive. It’s totally doable; I’ll write more posts on it, later. Building project pipelines and pathways to free up your creative energy, and restore your productivity.
But for now, when I caught myself burning on the nothings, I thought of Dad, and smiled.
Just like that I put away my work for the evening, and pulled out scrapbooks to hang out with my memories and my family. I blocked off time on my weekend to hit the road and take my camera for a mini adventure, and promised myself I wouldn’t check my email until tomorrow.
Be here. Be in it.
Because wherever you go, there you are.