I recently returned from a week on the road with two of my closest friends. When we departed from Denver, we were riding the high of a lovely weekend spent celebrating the love and marriage of two other dear friends. When we arrived a week later in Portland, we were riding the high of the kind of magic only a road trip with friends can create.
Over the course of almost 2,000 miles, I was confronted with some pretty important reminders on living my best, most balanced life. These are the kinds of lessons only adventures like a road trip can reawaken in you, and that continue to inspire you as you return to your day to day life.
1. The world is so much bigger than we are.
Whether it was driving through vast, open spaces in Utah and Nevada, crossing the mountains in Colorado, looking out over the ocean on the Pacific coast, or standing among giants in the California redwoods, the three of us found ourselves time and time again reminded of how small we really are. It’s hard to not feel tiny in the grand scheme of things when you are looking up at a tree that makes you look like an ant in comparison. (Side note: if you haven't been to the redwoods, GO NOW. You can't even begin to believe how majestic and gigantic those old trees are until you walk below them).
When faced with the grandness of nature, and the expansiveness of the entire universe, many people begin to feel insignificant in comparison. But that’s not how I choose to look at it. Instead, this wake up call of how small we really are reminds me that we are all a part of something much bigger than just ourselves. I'm not insignificant, but neither is what's happening in the rest of the universe either. The things we choose to focus on in our own little lives aren't the only things that exist (although sometimes it's easy to forget that). There's a big wide world out there. Opening myself up to this perspective is pretty humbling and inspiring all at once. It reminds me to think outside of myself a little bit more, and to see how I fit within and connect with the world around me.
2. Breaking routines is good for you sometimes.
Most of our lives, we find ourselves in routines. We go to work or school or do whatever it is we do to fill most days. We drive the same routes to get to the same places. We talk to and spend time with mostly the same people.
For those of you who know me, I am all about routines. I love routines, in fact. I like waking up and going to sleep at the same time each day. I like going to the same handful of restaurants. All in all, I like regularity and I like familiarity. And most of the time, routines serve me really well.
Going on a road trip wipes alllll of that away. Forget about staying in your regular routine. On this trip, we ate at odd hours (and ate odd meals). We slept in strange places. We lived a completely different life than we normally do.
And it was incredible. To get out of my day-to-day life for a while, and to step into something completely different was so good for me. I might have returned a little tired (ok, a lot) and a little lacking in certain nutrients (fresh veggies, I welcome you back in my life with open arms), but I felt better than I have in a while. I am refreshed and renewed.
Most of the time, routines are good for me. But some of the time, they limit me without me even realizing. They prevent me from being the freest version of myself, one where I can let go, live in the moment, and just be.
3. Spending extended time with good friends can’t be beat.
I’ll preface this by saying that I've never exactly considered myself a very “social” person, at least in the traditional sense. I’ve never had a huge social circle, I don’t go out very often, and the thought of making new friends in new places is pretty scary for me.
But while I might not be the big group, out-on-the-town kind of social person, quality time with quality friends is perfection in my book. So what could be better than spending day after day driving long hours in close proximity with two other people that I love? Not much, let me tell you.
These friends are strong, loyal, vibrant, strong-hearted, and wild (in the best way) women who make me think, inspire me, fill my heart, and strengthen who I am. It’s hard to find these kind of people in your life, and that’s why I’ve held on to them pretty tight. Due to scattering to different locations after college, a large portion of our friendship has occurred over long distance. But that hasn’t hindered it from being one of the most powerful friendships I’ve ever had.
And while most of the time, phone calls, occasional Skype dates, and short visits over the years does the trick for maintaining our friendship, an extended trip, where we got to really dig in deep with each other and thrive off of each other’s energy was absolutely transformative. Sometimes you just need the chance for enough time and space with people you love to make you feel connected and whole.
I’m heading back into my life here in the PNW feeling like the best version of myself. I’m overfilled with love, inspired by the grandness of the universe, and encouraged to live a bit more freely and wildly than I do in my usual life. In the end, these are some of the things that make me feel the most balanced. And it only took 2,000 miles, five states, countless hours on the road, some amazing women, and an unbeatable number of expansive views to remind me of those things.