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Lessons on the road of life

Can you feel it– the change in the air, the upbeat conversations across campus, the sudden shift toward optimism? Yes my friends, it’s almost that time again: spring break. Although Concordia’s spring break, or “Mid-Semester Recess” as it is officially listed on the academic calendar, may seem to occur oddly early in the midst of our frozen tundra compared to other institutions, this time of the year things always feel electric. I can hardly believe how quickly the semester has just flown by. Before I blink again, it will be graduation.

I truly love the transformation that happens on campus this time of the year. Winter can seem like a huge, oppressive force, dark and never-ending, sucking the life from everything in its path. But somehow spring break changes all of that: There is light at the end of the tunnel. Spring break offers fun, an exciting change of scenery and new things to do.

Although this year I’ll be gone again with the choir on tour, in years past spring break was synonymous with a family road trip. While typically our destinations revolved around visiting the same extended family, road trips were always really exciting. For some reason, the prospect of spending hours in the car with very little scenery was always enjoyable (but I totally understand why the idea can be truly repulsive to others).

My yearning for the open road began when I was really little. Dad used to work for Hormel, and part of his contract stipulated being transferred every 16-18 months, meaning that we were constantly on the move. While we often lived far away from family or friends, we never flew anywhere. Instead, my family depended upon a steady fleet of high-mileage, late model Buick or Oldsmobile sedans. Some of my earliest memories are of trips in those cars: my mom buckling my sister and me into the cavernous backseat and letting us take turns picking sing-along tapes to listen to as we sped across the Kansas or Nebraska prairie. When we’d run out of tapes, my Mom would tell us stories about crazy things that happened in her childhood or we’d count telephone poles. Or we’d just sit in silence, listening to the rhythmic hum of the engine or the wind whipping past the windows.

While some of our trips were short, we did do some long-range excursions even when my sister and I were really little. Especially considering the long distances and our young age, this must have been quite the undertaking.  I can remember driving from Wichita, Kan. to Denver, Colo. to visit one of my mom’s childhood friends, or trips to the Black Hills to meet up with vacationing family. Despite the distance, I never really minded spending six, seven or even eight hours in the car. I always enjoyed the ride. I knew that we’d get to our destination eventually, but it always seemed like an abstract concept that would never happen.

My love for the open road has remained just as strong to this day. There’s a certain comfort in it, knowing that no matter what I’ll eventually end up at my destination. My typical long-distance drive is my drive home, and I try and savor the time spent in the car, reflecting and checking in on how things are going in my life. For that brief five to six hours in the car, time kind of slows down. Things that once seemed vitally important just fade away, and it can really help to put things into perspective.

Perhaps that’s why I enjoy spending time in the car: that forced disconnection from the hectic demands of the day.  Over spring break I hope that you get that opportunity. Spend some time with yourself and your thoughts. Evaluate how things have gone so far and where you want the rest of the year to go. Time is running out, so be sure to make the most of it.

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