Two of my favorite travel quotes are by Anne Morrow Lindbergh from her journal volume Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead (1929-1932). They never fail to be true for me, even when applied to the quick back-and-forth trip I took last weekend.
“Is there anything as horrible as starting on a trip?," wrote Lindbergh, "Once you’re off, that’s all right, but the last moments are earthquake and convulsion, and the feeling that you are a snail being pulled off your rock.” In preparation for a trip of less than 48 hours I like to imagine myself just throwing a few things into a fashionable tote, turning out the lights, putting on my sunglasses, and stepping into the car. It never happens that way, however. Not for a 2-week trip, not for a 36-hour trip. The details are endless: Who in my family needs what before I go? Is the dog accounted for? Do I have cash? Has the phone voice mail been set? Do I have clothes for colder than/warmer than/wetter than predicted weather? Have I packed my contact solution? Was the garbage taken out? Did I get a replacement to help at such and so activity? Is there gas in the car? Why is that warning light blinking? And so on and so on.
Lindbergh continued, “It is strange, but the minute I got on the train and left I felt utterly different. I think one’s feelings and thoughts, the real true deep ones, are better focused when you get away because they are detached from their stale associations: one’s desk and room and bed and mirror. They become clear and just themselves, the way colors of a sunset or a birch grove seen upside down become clearer, because the colors are disassociated from their familiar forms. Do you see what I mean?” Yes, I see what she means. I experience it most times I travel. To be out from the four walls that frame my office and out from in front of the computer screen transforms the world and seems to lift a blanket that covers my brain.
Driving down I-94 for about 7 hours each way gives one plenty of time for the open sky and landscape to begin to detach the brain from work and routine, freeing it for the flow of ideas and dreams. About one hour into the drive, I felt the click of transition from stress to relaxation when an idea popped into my mind. I grabbed a notebook and placed it on the seat next to me. As I drove I filled a couple pages with ideas that I'm excited about. Of course, I didn't look at the notebook as I was driving, just scribbled while keeping both eyes safely on the road. The scribbles are legible enough. Now that the trip is over the challenge is to find the time to act on some of those ideas. Some day I'd like to take a train trip not really to go anywhere but just to ride, watch the world go by outside the window, and scribble down ideas for when the trip is done.