The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things

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In this world of continual distractions, those with the ability to be present enough to notice things have an unfair advantage. My drive from Utah to Minnesota has taught me that I can have that advantage, too. All I have to do is remember to breathe, pause, and focus on one thing at a time. A long road trip is the perfect place to practice this sort of thinking. 

Poisonous Snakes! From The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things
Poisonous Snakes Walkway

I’ve divided my “Art of Road Tripping” series into three main categories: 

Part 1: Leaving the House

Part 2: Remaining Open

And now, Part 3: Noticing Things….

I’ve left my comfort zone. I’ve chosen to remain open enough to peer beyond the way I perceive the world, and to consider other possibilities beyond the shadows of my own interpretations. My biggest challenge, however – to notice things -- was the trippiest part of this road trip. 

Round Lake. From The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things
Round Lake

Initially, I thought I’d just notice stuff – interesting monuments, perhaps, and the way the scenery changed as I drove. What I saw, however, wasn’t stuff. I noticed, instead, what my physical state was telling me. There was tension in my shoulders, for example, and I responded by relaxing. I listened to my worried thoughts and I responded by allowing them to fly away as quickly as they had landed. I then began to see my surroundings in a new way. 

noramic view I-90, South Dakota. From The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things
panoramic view I-90, South Dakota

I certainly did not reach enlightenment on this journey, but I enjoyed my time a lot more than I would have otherwise. When I make a point of noticing things, my mind switches to a state of gratitude.  My experiences then play out like a kind of poem. I see the kindness in others. I see the beauty of my surroundings. I notice how the day unfolds and as it does, I don’t judge it as harshly.   

West Minnesota. From The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things
West Minnesota
Round Lake, Minnesota. From The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things
Round Lake, Minnesota

If I dedicate myself to the simple act of Noticing Things, I take on the role of student. I delight in what I am learning. When I am a student, I do not carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I do the best I can as a passionate learner-of-life. 

ree in South Dakota. From The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things
Tree in South Dakota

Thanks, Blog-Boss Jessica. Thank you for encouraging me to write as I road tripped. I started out this journey to Minnesota feeling apprehensive about what I perceived as past and present failures. I have spent far too much time in my life trying to meet the unattainable goal of being pristinely perfect and then lamenting over the fact that I did not achieve that state. What a cruel and futile pastime! I would never inflict this kind of relentless self-judgment onto anyone else. Why, then, would I allow myself to suffer?
 
Near Round Lake Winery. From The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things
Near Round Lake Winery

I’ll write again soon. This is the end of my three-part series, but it is certainly not the end of my learning. I finally made it to Minnesota, but I have to return to Utah in a couple of weeks. And I look forward to that because on the way home, I’ll take a different route. I’ll remain open and I’ll notice stuff. Hopefully, I’ll have a few insights worth mentioning. And best of all, I’ll see you again.   

me by a statue named Dignity, Chamberlain, South Dakota. From The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things
me by a statue named Dignity, Chamberlain, South Dakota

Peace & Perfect Road Trips, 
Debra 

Cowboy Statue at Wall Drug in South Dakota. From The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things
Cowboy Statue at Wall Drug in South Dakota

P.S. When my son was an infant, one way to calm him down when he was fussy was to settle him in his car seat and go for a drive. He’d fall right to sleep. Although it is not recommendable for one to fall asleep while driving, I think there is a parallel here for grown-ups. I have calmed myself by taking myself for an incredibly long drive. It feels amazing.

I-90 South Dakota. From The Art of Road Tripping, Part 3: Noticing Things
I-90 South Dakota

 

Read the series!
Part One, Leaving the House
Part Two, Remaining Open
The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home

 

Debra Payne, PhD, Obstacle Blasting Coach, is a long time contributing editor for Wandering Educators. Debra works with people to get big, long, scary projects done and she can also help people get through college. Debra specializes in ADHD Coaching and you can find her here: http://www.debrapaynephd.com/. You can also email her directly at debra[at]debrapaynephd.com

All photos courtesy and copyright Debra Payne

 

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