We’d been on the road for a few hours, and it was time for a break. Our holiday family visit had been a good time, but we were tired, anxious to get home, and stressed from the hectic holiday traffic around us. The roads were for the most part covered with snow and ice, and the rush of cars was more intense than normal given these traveling conditions. We had our two young children with us, and they were eager to get out of their car seats. So when we saw the sign for rest area ahead, the decision to turn off the interstate was easy to make.
Our trip from the east side of Oregon to our home in Portland was full of beauty. The route took us through multiple mountain passes, as well as the famously beautiful Columbia River George valley. I usually enjoyed the seven hour drive through this region, but add a little snow, or even some wind and rain, and the normally pleasant drive could turn into a nail biting adventure.
The rest area was in a particularly beautiful section of the trip. I remember it was located in the foothills of one of the mountain passes, and we could see quite a ways to the west of the state. The weather had cleared just enough allowing us to see for miles. It was one of those times when the clouds make a path for the sun to shine through. The view was spectacular and quickly changing.
At the time, my young daughter had not been walking long, so as we stretched our legs, we moved slowly along as she practiced her words based on the familiar objects around us. “Rock!” she said, pointing to a particularly large black rock. “Yep that’s a rock.” I said encouragingly. “Rock,” she said again pointing to another. For a little while I encouraged her in her observation of those things familiar to her, but eventually I was so drawn towards the beauty of the scene in the distance that I had to share it with her. “Look over there Abby.” I said as I lifted her off the ground and pointed to the beauty of the sun streaming through the fast changing clouds. “Rock!” Abby said, pointing to the ground and struggling to get down to those interesting hard things. “Yea that’s a rock, but look out there honey.” This time I gently lifted her chubby little face in the direction of the scene, a little more anxious for her to see what was just beyond her focus. “Stick!” She said excitedly, pointing to a log. I tried a little more, trying to help her see just beyond her current perspective, but eventually I realized she was not ready to look past the familiar. So I gently placed her back on her shaky little legs, and watched her point again and again at the many plain black rocks around us.
I’ve thought about that experience with my daughter many times since. It’s become a life lesson for me, to realize that although my focus is usually on the most current worry, stress or life event, there is often an amazing perspective on the horizon. Often, just taking my eyes off that thing I’m worried about, and looking around for the good is enough to completely change my attitude, and my perspective on life. At least until the next “rock” comes into view…