The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home

by Dr. Debra Payne / May 30, 2017 /

The journey back home from a road trip is different than the journey to somewhere else. On the way back, I know that I am returning to reality. This fatigued schlep changes to enthusiasm, however, when I see that I am close to home. Suddenly I am filled with gratitude for things I once took for granted. At that point, everything becomes beautiful and new.
I had driven 1,227.2 miles from Utah to Minnesota and for a moment I thought I had finished, but then I realized that soon I would need to find my way back home. My challenge then became to notice new things on a familiar path.

Wyoming sky. From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home
Wyoming sky

World's Largest Candy Store, Minnesota. From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home
World's Largest Candy Store, Minnesota

If you did not see my recent, three-part series on The Art of Road Tripping as I made my way all alone in my trusty Hyundai, here’s a quick summary: 

Part One, Leaving the House, involved overcoming the inertia of the familiar and moving towards new, possibly uncomfortable challenges. As I drove across long stretches of freeway, I reflected on how I was returning to a place where I once sought external validation by earning a PhD.  This academic approval seeking was just another illustration of my raging dysfunction – my willingness to try to prove my worth to an outside world that, as it turns out, really wasn’t watching. 

Part Two, Remaining Open, reflected what I hoped would be a renewed commitment to setting aside my preconceived notions of how my life should look and instead, remaining open to new possibilities. 

Part Three, Noticing Things, taught me about the peace that gratitude can bring. When I dedicate my days to being present, both the past and the future fall into place. The past no longer holds me prisoner, clouding my life and filtering the way I interpret my present-day experiences. The future does not frighten me with its ominous predictions. When I notice things, I am fully here, operating from the most powerful place I know: The NOW. 

Green River, Wyoming. From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home
Green River, Wyoming

I was more honest with myself this time in Minnesota. I curbed my approval seeking behavior and tried to just be myself. I went to an event on my home campus and met with former colleagues who seem far more successful than I am. Seeing them brought upon those old familiar feelings of not-measuring-up, but that was over quickly. I met with a friend for dinner afterwards and over our Burrito Bowls, we talked about the broken pieces of our lives that we are committed to healing. 

Northern Utah (Summit County). From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home
Northern Utah (Summit County)

South Dakota --  Historic Holy Trinity Church 1893 by Bohemian Pioneers. From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home
South Dakota --  Historic Holy Trinity Church 1893 by Bohemian Pioneers

My life has not changed because of this trip. Just as I did not win fame and fortune while in Minnesota, I have not won it now. I have, however, shifted my perspective slightly. As I drove home, I remembered my goal to see new things on familiar paths. This exercise brought me appreciation, hope, and an occasional burst of laughter. The Art of Noticing can be a truly entertaining activity. Try it!  

Standing Next to the Incredible Hulk. From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home
Standing Next to the Incredible Hulk

Get your hands on our buns. From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home
Get your hands on our buns

There will be more successes and more failures in my life. I am in good health and although I am old enough to qualify for an AARP card, I still have an awful lot of living left to do. There will be more places to go and more people to see. And there will be, without a doubt, more places to travel. 

near Mitchell, South Dakota. From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home
near Mitchell, South Dakota

1-80 stretching on forever in Rock Springs, Wyoming. From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home
1-80 stretching on forever in Rock Springs, Wyoming

In the meantime, Blog-Boss Jessica has given me the stamp of approval to work on a concept I’ve titled “Tourist in Your Own Town.” I’ll see you soon, then, reporting from the odd and delightful Western town of Ogden, Utah.

Welcome to Utah sign in Echo Canyon. From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home

Welcome to Utah sign in Echo Canyon

I'm home! From The Art of Road Tripping: The Way Back Home
I'm home!

Peace & Perfect Road Trips, 
Debra 

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://djpcoaching.com/. You can also email her directly at debra[at]djpcoaching.com

All photos courtesy and copyright Debra Payne