The thing with crazy ideas is that your brain does everything it can to stop you from doing them. The "logical" excuses and obstacles you come up with to stop yourself from carrying out plans are oftentimes the only real barriers to begin with.
One night, I was sitting at a stoplight with one of my friends, and we hatched the brilliant idea to drive to California and back (quite a drive, especially since we live in Michigan). When she first brought it up to me, I dismissively said something like "Yeah that'd be awesome" or something, my brain instinctively thinking up hundreds of imaginary reasons that we shouldn't go on the road trip.
Flash forward a bit, and the same friend starts to pester me about the commitment I unknowingly made weeks prior. She had already planned the entire trip — the route we were taking, where we would stop on the way, and most importantly, the parking lots we were going to sleep in.
I figured that at this point, she was too invested for me to let her down, so I get the week off work, get the car looked at to make sure it won't explode in the middle of Wyoming, and we were off.
If that sounds pretty spontaneous, it's because it was.
Before I knew it, the trees of Michigan were gone, and I was surrounded by rows upon rows of corn. Eventually the corn disappeared and was replaced with rolling hills, gorgeous green grass, and cows everywhere. The highways gradually decreased in their number of lanes, and sightings of other cars became more and more sporadic the further west we drove. Before we knew it, we lost cell reception and were completely alone for what seemed like the first time in our entire lives.
We drove and drove, seldom seeing anything other than a cow for hundreds of miles. The rolling hills got steeper and soon became snow-capped mountains.
I already know that explaining that particular sensation of isolation is useless, because it's something you simply have to experience to understand.
In our 10-year old car with 200,000 miles, driving in the middle Wyoming with no cell reception, I felt an indescribable feeling of peace. For once in my life, I wasn't thinking about the stock market, the pandemic, work, the economy, Instagram, or anything else that had consumed my life for months. For once in my life, I felt truly alone, completely helpless, completely stranded, but above all, I felt simply serene.
If the car had broken down, we would have been screwed. If we ran out of food, we would have to go hungry. If anything at all had happened, there was simply nothing we could do. And that was exactly what I needed.
I needed a break from worrying. I needed a break from the responsibilities and commitments that we all tend to acquire. By being alone with the cows, my worries drifted away and I truly took life as it came. Just like the landscape changed, so did my mind. My past was no longer trauma and mistakes — now it was cows in the rear view mirror. My future was no longer a job or a mortgage — now it was the Rocky Mountains.
One night we stopped just outside of Yellowstone to sleep. We pulled off on to a gravel road at the base of a mountain. It was pitch black out, and the only thing keeping me tied to reality was the sound of coyotes somewhere in the mountains. It was the best sleep of my life.
Yes, we saw beautiful scenery like mountains, beaches, and deserts on our trip.. But the feeling of absolute freedom outweighed that. For once in my life, I felt completely helpless — but in the most freeing way possible.