The Journey Begins

A young lady who had abandoned her family, a retired truck driver who found a hobby, a team in mourning after losing an important game, a grieving man who had just lost his 94-year-old mother, an older lady living her dream – these are the transition situations I’ve encountered so far, as I begin my journey around the country. I am currently in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on my way to Charleston and just beginning to learn what it is like to be on the road and driving into the unknown. It has been 13 days since I left my home in Glenview, Illinois, having driven about 1400 miles so far and going from temperatures near zero to the balmy 60s in January of 2018.     

Here are some observations from a happy-go-lucky traveler - Insights from a week on the road – what I’ve learned and relearned so far.

Weather in January keeps people off the roads. Hotels are cheaper because business is down and they need to at least make their expenses if not a profit. The only way to do that today is to post your best discount price on several travel sites. Consolidation of hotel brands make travel decisions easier and customer comments are critical in making lodging and meal decisions along the way.

More people are traveling today because they can. Instant 24/7 communication is possible on the road with portable rechargeable wi-fi and the capability of in-car charging. In fact, you can bring along just about everything you need inside a car with room to spare. I’m doing it.

A printed atlas is still needed. Looking at map to see the big picture and the possible attractions in a given area is better than Google. You can see the big picture before you go on line. https://roadtrippers.com/ provides instant gratification for your curiosity along the way. https://www.hoteltonight.com/ gives you cut rate choices for class A lodging and https://www.vrbo.com/ suggests spacious, longer-term lodging arrangements.

I journal each day to help me remember but also to process some of the discoveries along the way. My mantra has become document, document, document and share the highlights. Thank you, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MikeLee2020 for bringing family and friends along with me.

Here are a few outstanding design elements on this 2017 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T:

 Trusty steed 2017 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T

Trusty steed 2017 Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T

Great GPS – flawless software. Ease/convenience of various dashboard/steering wheel switches. Headlights turn off automatically. Quiet continuous heating and cooling. Effective insulation from cold and wet. Gas mileage not great but acceptable. Comfortable seating and plenty of room.

And a few considerations for change:

Add software switch to change volume of an annoying turn signal sound. Cruise control automatic-braking-system turns off when slush covers it. Need to deflect the build-up somehow. Adding an approved tow bar for carrying a small bike carrier would be much better than an aftermarket carrier supported by straps. Software to turn off rear-video signal-noise when something obscures the camera lens.

Back to my thoughts as I start my country-wide journey. The ubiquity of human transition is what attracts my attention these days. I find it both interesting and informative to talk with people who are in transition. So, what are the transitions I’ve encountered and how are these people dealing with them?

The young lady who has abandoned her entire family – mother, father and siblings – has learned to live without them but also appears to have developed a sturdy coat of armor to protect her shattered feelings. Her claim to happiness was shallow in my opinion, ignoring the built-up sadness and anger that will hit her someday once she rediscovers the importance of close family relationships and love. That transition is yet to occur.

The gregarious retired truck driver who engages everyone he meets so that he can share his joy in finding a hobby that is both purposeful and productive, if not profitable. He builds room-size model ships from scratch, taking the time to design, buy materials and assemble into a refined, presentable finished product. They aren’t for sale. Rather he displays them in public places – libraries, retirement homes, schools - for all to see and admire. His transition is on-going.

The football team that lost its rudder in the playoffs is suffering through the neutral zone of grief and disappointment. The hard work that brought them to this moment in time wasn’t enough to get them to the next stage. They will find “new beginnings” but it will take a year to get there again.

The 67-year old son who came back home to attend his 94-year-old mother’s funeral, was upbeat and strong in his outlook. When the transition has a long tail, you can adjust your expectations and learn to fully experience all elements of life’s changes without rancor or blame. He was in the middle of his own retirement transition and had already bought his mother’s house (the one where he grew up) and had decided to retire from his current job with a prospect of returning to his place of youth to renew friendships and start working a 3-day week with a boyhood friend. His transition is glowing in optimism and purpose.

And finally, an elderly lady who had once had a life of prominence and purpose, living out her days in relative luxury but frustrated to be losing her strength and agility. She covers herself to appear fulfilled but struggles with daily living belying her true feelings of inadequacy and abandonment. Her days need human interaction but her body is keeping her from contentment. Her transition is yet to begin.

I’m in transition as well and my hope is to keep learning and growing into wholeness as I meet and engage with fellow “travelers” along the way. Stay tuned. The journey has only just begun.