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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Confessions of a Road Trip Junkie

I'm a huge fan of road trips. Really. While others balk at 12 or more hours of being stuck inside a bus, I exult over the thought. Secretly, of course, since others expect me to be, at the very least, discouraged at the idea.

But really, I looove road trips. I love every part of the ride, not just when the bus is on the roll. I love the traffic (although, not so much). I love the stop-overs. I love the countryside whizzing past. I love the bridges crossed, I love the water under the bridges. I love the clouds when it's day time and I love the stars I strain to see when it's night time. I love the way cars line up in the tollgates. When I'm on a road trip, I love every music that plays in my mp3 player. Really, I love road trips.

And you ask: WHY?

The eye-fest
First of all, it's because there is so much to see. Granted, I'd be asleep 70% of the time, more so when it's a night trip. But the rest of the trip is a guaranteed eye-fest. Some people tune out after a kilometer of green fields, but that's because those green fields are all they chose to see. But look. Those lines of electric whatchamacallit. Isn't the way the stand in a row, like silent sentries sporting funky-geometric design, graceful? It's easy to imagine one of them moving, ala Transformers, when you're not looking. And look, look! How cute. Those rows and rows of corn or whatever plant there is for the season. They way they sway this and that in tune to the music being played by the wind. And I wish I could hear the music, too, but alas. I'm trapped in the fast moving bus.


And the special treats.Imagine waking up from a light sleep and looking outside the window to see the sun peeking out of the mountain ranges. It's a challenge, trying to snap a photo of that visual treat, while trees and houses and electric poles block what was a clear view of the sunrise. Sometimes I get my photo, most of the times I don't, but the thrill of chasing the sunrise is like a dose of morning coffee. It gets my heart pumping and brings a lot of things into focus: see how lovely the golden light spills among the leaves of that tree?
The stop-overs
Maybe this is just me, but I really like buying food and eating at stop-overs. When it's a night trip, a cup of coffee or a serving of instant noodles feel like a special treat. The food may not always be top grade, but taking a break after hours of butt-numbing trip makes stop-overs feel like a reward, and who doesn't like rewards?
Stop-overs are also places where different people converge, so it's a haven for people watching. It's also a lot less awkward to talk to strangers in stop-overs than in other situations. Maybe that's because the shared experience of say, enduring the bus' freezing temperature, had forged a flimsy bond among the bus passengers. I sometimes find myself sitting next to co-passenger sipping the same brand of three-in-one coffee. That person would open up the conversation with "Ang lamig no? (Too cold, right?)", and before I know it, our conversation have taken us into each others' lives' avenues. Time passes quickly in an interesting conversation, and before long, it's time to go. I gain a friend I might never see again, and another interesting story is weaved into my life's tapestry , making it more vibrant and colorful .
And oh, in stop overs, sometimes you see this (that is, if you're on the lookout):
Somewhere in Nueva Vizcaya |"Get Lost" |Translated here
The "unsullied" thinking time
Quick, tell me, where do you usually have your profound philosophical musings? That's right, the shower. Or the comfort room. Because in those places, there are only so much that you can do: shower and you know what. That leaves a lot of space in our mind for deep thinking. Road trips are a lot like that. What else can you do when you're on a moving bus? Read? Listen to music? Talk to seat mate? Sleep? Look outside the window? And yeah, of course, mull over things.
Mulling over things is my favorite road trip activity. I really can't do a lot of spaced-out thinking anywhere else, simply because there are too many distractions. Inside a swift moving bus, those distractions shrink into a dot and settle at the back of my mind; leaving a lot of space for new ideas and philosophies. If the thought-recorder is ever invented, I'd be a thousand times more prolific writer than I am now. And perhaps, the quality of my writings would be a hundred thousand times better. How many wonderful ideas have escaped me the moment I get off the bus? I can only sigh in regret.
Bus rides are also the perfect place for "guilt-free time-wasting". I can read books after books without thinking about the more important things to do. I can stare outside the window all day, with my head above the clouds (can't do that at home guiltlessly). And I can nap anytime. I sometimes find myself dozing off in the middle of a conversation, then when I wake up sometime later, pick up where we left off (that is, if the other person is awake). Haha.

And...
Much has been said in the "joy being in the journey". Greg Anderson sums it up in this well-known quote: "Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it." I'm glad to have learned to enjoy long and inconvenient road trips, and happy to be blessed with eyes that see dancers where other people can only see boring green fields. I hope you can, too.

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