It was the second driving day of our trip. At first I thought it was a great reminder of why we needed to find a more solid method to secure our cabinets shut before driving. I now see it as something of a word picture for what happened to us over the course of a year. You see, those ever-shifting cabinet contents were a little glimpse of how my entire mindset was being rearranged. Some things just got jostled a bit, like my need to be efficient and finish tasks quickly. A lot of things fell from great heights all the way to the floor (like hiding behind my introversion). Not a single one of them was broken or spilled out in such a way as to ruin my life.
Traveling long-term will rearrange the contents of your head. It shifts your perspective in ways you do not expect.
When you wander around the country you have the time to slow down and ponder that little town off the highway and you start wondering about the people. How long have they called this place home? Have they been here their whole lives? If not, what drew them here? And what do they do that supports the fabric of America? You see all those invisible people responsible for making sure the rest of us still have tires for our cars or granite for our countertops or a can of green beans any time we want. They have real lives and stories. You won’t learn that or even think of it wandering the aisles of Home Depot.
Along with that interest comes a sense of adventure. I am not talking about the kind of adventure that makes for good cinema and special effects. I mean the mindset that goes, “So I’m somewhat lost here on the John Muir Trail, but I know if I stay by the river and keep my eyes on Lembert Dome I will get back to the trailhead in a mile or so.” Or, “I have a fever and just want to sleep, but when am I going to get back to the Boiling River? And with these cool new traveling friends, no less?” And, “Yes, there are scorpions in the bath house. I am going in anyway. Might be a homeschool lesson in there.”
When we came home I was afraid all that adventure we gained would slowly (or quickly) leak away. I feared we might slip back into the habits of using my phone to find things instead of my brain or avoid my neighbors and cease to care about their stories. I used to think doing those things would cost us valuable time, and I had my Introvert excuse all prepared. But there again, traveling taught us to slow down and care because the gain is worth it.
So life as we know it got rearranged rather nicely. And nothing of true value was broken.