Sometimes a person gets to that point in their life when they just have to undertake a journey. To move from where they are to someplace else. It really doesn't matter where they go, so long as its someplace else and most importantly, they understand, that its the journey that counts. When that time came for me, I chose to go south, like a snowbird, to flee the cold of the north, and travel to the sun and renewal of the south. As I said, its really the journey that counts.
This blog is about the journey and what it teaches me. For the first time, after two decades in America I boarded a Greyhound Bus, with a ticket for the southern reaches of the United States. I have flown to many places, in the United States and beyond and driven myself to many more, but I had never taken the intercity bus and I did not really know what to expect, especially after a few hiccups booking the ticket online.
I need not have worried, the staff at the station were efficient and courteous if a little bit on the firm and commanding side. This was certainly no American Airlines, a little bit gruff, but clearly doing their job. Onboard the bus I was met by a few pleasant surprises, a 110 volt power outlet for each passenger and wifi throughout the bus.
I was pretty much the last person on the bus and though the bus was only about half full all the good seats were taken, but I still got a row to myself. Besides a couple of seats just for me, the leg room was great, this certainly beat flying coach. We are in so much of a hurry these days, we get to no place pretty fast and all alone, leaving our loved ones behind.. This is what I was thinking as I sat and studied the other passengers.
There was the young guy in fashionably ripped jeans, across the aisle and a row up from me, who was already on his laptop, earbuds in his ears and playing with his phone. Behind him and across the aisle from me a woman, who looked like she was heading home to her kids, she was fiddling with her phone and also talking animatedly to the middle aged guy in the row behind her. She was telling him something about being on the road two months. Directly ahead of me a middle aged woman was engrossed in her iPad. Up front was what seemed to me three generations of an Amish family and an older guy who looked like he might have been homeless. Towards the back a couple of guys one black one white who looked like they were construction workers. And right at the back an older black guy with side burns and an impressive mustache.
I was thinking “Who are these people, where are they going?” As the bus headed out everybody except the woman across from me and the guy behind her were focused on their devices, phones, laptops, ipads. They all seemed like a seasoned bunch of bus travelers, perhaps I was the rookie of the lot? My eyes and thoughts turned outside. One of the advantages of travelling by bus this time of year is clearly the stunning views of the changing leaves. Everywhere the trees are turning a reddish golden brown, that's just beautiful and uplifting to drink in with all your senses. This seemed to me a lot more fitting thing to do than to open up the laptop lying in its bag on the seat beside me. Its the journey that counts after all!
Then there is the road itself, trucks, cars, each on its own journey, after a little while on the bus all those anonymous cars and trucks going by become familiar fellow travelers and I found it very easy and pleasant to loose myself in this scene. Why, oh why, do we fly over this? I looked around at my fellow travelers, both inside and out and realized that we were a community of experiencers, bound together by our journeys. Things also became a lot more animated in the bus after a little while. A little Amish baby up front in her mother's arms began to fuss. The two construction workers in the back began a friendly if somewhat loud conversation about sports. The guy at the back stuck resolutely to himself, while I explained to a few people where I was going. Truth betold though, I didn't really know myself.
Its the journey that counts.
Out on the road it doesn't matter where you came from, just where you are going and you don't worry about the twists and turns coming up ahead, you just watch the stretch you are on.
Eventually I do get on my laptop, my phone, check email, send texts, make a call, all the familiar and comfortable tethers that make the journey matter so much. I'm in the swing of things now,just going with whats there.We stop at a truck stop and I come out do the needful and then stand around outside with the young Amish couple enjoying the sun. They are stealing glances at me and I at them. Back on the bus we keep heading south and feeling the warmth. Everything's good now. We get Nashville Station and I go off feeling happy. Even the lady at the concession store who can't get my order and probably charges me too much does'nt ruffle my feathers.
Then its south again heading into the golden hour, watching the trucks, the water towers stoic sentinels, heralds, preachers of the road, bearing witness, about these places, to all who go by.