Can I tell you something ridiculous that happened the other day? I passed over one of those mileage “thresholds” on my car.
And I’m not saying for sure that I thought my dashboard would shoot fireworks out of the A/C vents in celebration, but maybe I hoped a little bit. And I was perhaps a bit disappointed when absolutely no one came out to congratulate me on the huge milestone (pun intended) of having driven 90,000 miles.
For some reason, I thought 90,000 miles in my car was significant. And it is, I guess. 90,000 is a big number. But the crossing over from 89,999 to 90,000 is not the significant thing. The significant things are everything that happened from miles 0 to 90,000.
Like that time my life imitated art and I got a flat tire from a pot hole in Valley Forge Park at 9:30 at night, and even though I knew how to change a tire I still had to call my roommate and alert him to the fact that I was by myself in a National Park with a flat tire when it was pitch black and that he needed to monitor how long it was before I got home. That man has a heart of gold, and he drove out to be with me while I changed the tire.
Or that one time I was driving home from my parent’s house, and all of a sudden I hear a loud THUNK on the passenger side of my windshield, and before I know it a baby bat has landed in the fetal position (stunned? dead?) IN MY LAP. I don’t think I’ve ever shrieked so loudly, nor exaggerated more dramatically when I called to report the incident to my dad.
Or that time I invited my friend to be my valentine for the CrossFit KOP St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and we drove to the gym singing “Runaway Baby” at the top of our lungs.
Or just all those hours upon hours of alone time I had in my car as I drove from one place to another. Singing, thinking, pretending. I have put 90,000 miles on the car, after all.
Why were those insignificant to me? Why did I not expect the thrill from them that I expected from the turning of a number on my odometer?
I couldn’t even reset that odometer if I tried. I have never touched it, never interacted with it, except to notice the numbers.
And this may seem like a ridiculous train of thought, but consider it a metaphor.
My odometer is not the only altar upon which I place my optimism, excitement, and anticipation.
I often start things, and then after 5 or 10 minutes think to myself, “Ok, I’ve had enough of learning this. Let’s get this over with so I can move on to the next thing.” And then I stress about how much it’s not getting over with. Haven’t we all been there?
Maybe you skip ahead when you daydream about a relationship? Or whine at how tired you are of having ugly technique while weightlifting, and how much you’d just prefer it to be perfect already. (Not that I speak from experience…) Or maybe you give up on learning a language or an instrument because what’s in your head doesn’t match what’s actually happening.
I think sometimes I look to change for epiphanies and bliss. Somehow something in my life now feels incomplete, or blocked somehow, and that I need some external change in order for the last puzzle piece to fall into sleep. Where did that paradigm come from? And why does it not hold up when I look backwards?
I’m not sure I have answers tonight. Just more questions. Maybe one answer: Life matters. And it matters now. It’s all important. To quote The Doctor,
A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.
You can look for the path, and make long term plans based on your goal or what you expect, but pay attention in the meantime.
Because all those “insignificant” miles on my odometer mattered too.
* I’m not sure why I always think of these two Elton John songs in the same sentence, but that’s the inspiration for this post’s title. “If we’re all going somewhere, let’s get there soon / For this song has no title, just words and a tune.”