Every morning during my early years of high school, I would board the big yellow bus as it approached my development. Okay, I lied. Every morning during all of high school I rode the bus. I was that kid, right up to graduation day.
I would ascend the metal staircase and look down the endless rows of brown upholstery to locate my friends. Seven o’clock in the morning. I was groggy and the bus windows were still lightly coated with that dewey mist, making the morning feel even riper – even earlier – than it was. For future reference, I am not and never have been a morning person.
As we traversed the city to our destination my friends and I would look out the window and watch the world go alongside of us. I always remember one friend in particular as she looked down at the drivers in their little cars underneath our big bus, and she would point out that people look so unhappy when they are driving.
This would cause me to look out the window and single out the driver in the nearest car to assess their facial expression. Serious, but dazed. Like drones processing to and fro along a memorized path. They’ve done it a hundred mornings before this one and so have we. We are all just a part of the rush hour parade.
And my friend was right, they did look unhappy. Not in an unfulfilled, hate-their-job sort of way. Just in a practiced sort of way. A muscle memory sort of way. That way we look when we’re doing the same thing for the thousandth time and don’t even need to think about it anymore. It’s like how you can go through your whole morning routine on autopilot and not even remember what you ate for breakfast because it all just happens without you paying attention.
That was how their faces looked as they drove. And I would laugh, because my friend was right and because it was funny now that she pointed it out. Sometimes when I drive I think about what my own driving expression is. I probably look lost most of the time.
I probably am lost most of the time, but it’s impossible to be found if you were never lost.
Everyone on the road is going somewhere. Every car has a destination, or else it wouldn’t be there. Someone is going to work, someone else is going to the mall, others being carted off to school, some are going home after what feels like a long time, some are just joy riding. But no one is just sitting. Everyone is moving in a direction. Everyone is going somewhere.
Some people want to be going where they are headed and others don’t. Some are downright dreading it. Some have been to their prospective destination a million times before and others are trying out a route for the first time. Some people are even driving for the first time. Some people are driving for the last time.
Sometimes we break down and need help from others to jump start the engine and get us going again. Sometimes we don’t even have a vehicle but we need to get somewhere so badly that we hitchhike or we walk alongside the road because getting there slowly is better than not getting there at all. And sometimes, we are just driving for the sake of driving.
On occasion, we are the passenger in someone else’s car, riding shotgun to their adventure until it’s time to get back on our own. And sometimes, their journey is a part of our own. Some days we set out to bring something home with us, and some days we set out to start over somewhere new, never to return again.
Everyone is on the road, and we’re all going somewhere. Even on the days when we get disoriented or run out of gas, going somewhere is always better than going nowhere. But we’re never going nowhere.