Here are my two favorite lines from the Blues Brothers movie.
Elwood: There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of glass, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it!
As you are reading this post, I am embarking on a true road trip with the world’s coolest mom. She will be 81 in October and still has the inquisitive need to travel without plans. Like Jake and Elwood, we also have a full tank of gas but not much more. We are heading into Utah and hoping to see three or four of their great national parks. We do not have a single reservation and plan to use Google Maps to get from point to point. The point being a target that may be determined each morning, afternoon, or evening. We have no return date.
Routines are very natural and common in our lives. I have many of them, including eating the same Kashi cereal almost every day. I find the best way to disengage the autopilot and take over the aircraft is to put myself in an environment or a situation where my comfort boundaries are stretched, pulled, and shattered.
Life is filled with regimented plans, rules, and structure. While likely necessary on a macro level, they tend to suffocate at the micro and need to be demolished. Rigidity reminds me of the banks of a river. The water takes a path of least resistance and eventually flows to a predetermined destination. Is it possible that our programmed routines are just like the banks and our thoughts flow unchallenged like water down a stream?
If you think that routines do not dominate your life, take a personal inventory of a few items. Do you ever by choice drive a different route to work? Do you ever order a different entree at your most frequented restaurant? Other than seasonal fruits or vegetables, do any new items ever make it into your grocery cart? Can you even remember the last time you had sex in a different room?
Original thoughts to not germinate is a catatonic state. A change in perspective only comes when challenge is present. A buzz saw is needed to cut through the years of accumulated barbed wire that bind the mind to yesterday’s thoughts. From 1986 until 1994, I worked for a large semiconductor company selling computer chips. Looking in the rear-view mirror, only about 10% of the customers from that era are even in business today. At the time, they were triple AAA rated public companies. They are gonzo because they kept doing it the same way day after day.
I hope to employ the following line from Jack Kerouac on this current trip, “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”