4 Life Lessons from 20 Days on the Road


4 Life Lessons from 20 Days on the Road

Starting on July 8th until July 28th, I was on a road trip with my roommate, her brother, and his girlfriend.

As you can imagine, it was an immensely awesome experience interspersed with outrageously un-awesome moments that make up this strange passing we call life.

Since I didn’t have reliable access to the Interwebs, I took a hiatus as you may have seen on my Instagram. Now that I’m back, I want to share some of my reflections from 20 days on the road and apply it as applicable to writing!

For reference, over 20 days we went from:

  • Southern Wyoming
  • to Glacier National Park in Montana
  • to Calgary, Canada
  • to Banff, Canada
  • to Vancouver, Canada
  • to Seattle, Washington
  • to Seaside, Oregon
  • to Sweet Home, Oregon
  • back to southern Wyoming

We definitely hit some other spots along the way (like Vulcan, Canada and Astoria, Oregon) but those were the places we stopped to intentionally visit!

So without further ado…

Attitude makes and breaks all circumstances

We had to change one of the tires on my car 3 times as we rode the spare, repaired the tire, and had to ride the spare again. But in addition to knowing how to change a tire (and figuring out where the jack was in my car), these are some of my happier memories from the trip.

It was incredibly frustrating when the tire pressure light went off after Glacier. And it was scary to have to drive to an air pump an hour away. And because everyone in the car was happy and laughing about the situation instead of freaking out in frustration, we had a grand time.

Conversely, we went on a 7-mile hike that was only supposed to be 2.5 miles and did not have a great time—there was rage and bitterness instead, which made what could have been another fun time into a rough one.

Whether you’ve pumped out 1,000 words or just lost your manuscript to a computer error, your attitude about writing can make or break the circumstance. You always have the choice about how you want to deal with the situation and choosing joy will make your life better. Every time, I guarantee it.

Learn to love the labor, not just its fruits

For the first 8 days, my roommate and I did 90% of setting camp, breaking camp, starting the campfire, campfire cooking, and lake-water dishwashing while everyone else chilled or set their hammocks and swam in the lakes.

I. hate. dishwashing.

As I struggled with my attitude over the matter I let it break my circumstances. Which as we’ve established is a bummer.

As I was repacking the car so the driver could see out the back window (which was my personal duty throughout the entirety of the trip), I realized that even though it seemed like I was the only one who was doing 90% of the work, I actually really loved packing the car.

I still hated dishwashing but taking the time to appreciate the labor itself helped me to enjoy it more and be less bitter about everyone else “enjoying themselves” because the fact was, they were doing work too, and eventually I would enjoy that fruit as well.

Or at least I would still have a good time even if I was the only one out of 3 people who was actively looking for free parking in the city.

Whether you’re writing fiction, blog posts, or journal entries, it can be tempting to just enjoy the finished story, article, or record. Worse, you may be writing just for the accolades or for money. These are all reasonable fruits of writing!

But if they’re the only reason you’re writing, then you’re missing out on the joy of writing itself. Writing for writing’s sake is just as valuable as the finished product and the results of that product.

There is no bad time to ask for help

We asked about 3 families if we could crash on their couch the night we asked. Now, it’s typically polite to give people some warning before you intrude on their homes. As it so happened, we spent all 3 of those nights in someone’s house.

My roommate and I had packed a bunch of matches, only to find out that none of them were strike-anywhere matches. Ruh-roh. As the rest of our group was off on a hike, we wandered down to another campsite where the campers allowed us to borrow a small patch of sandpaper so we could light our fire.

When our car battery died, we had to ask three other campers for jumper cables and if we could use their car to jump our battery again.

Catching a trend? No matter what circumstance you’re in, it never hurts to ask for help. While there are plenty of pompous or busy folk out there who will reject or even mock you, there are plenty more who are more than happy to help.

There are so many times during writing when it’s right to ask for help. From brainstorming to proofreading, writing isn’t a solo venture. Sure, you can do it on your own, but often I’ve found that getting help makes the finished product better.

And you don’t even have to ask people who you know are qualified; most people can help even if they’re not J.K. Rowling.

Our world is amazing

Did you know that the water in Canada is clean?

I didn’t either, and it astounded me every time we passed the Bow River in Calgary or the Pacific in Vancouver.

Did you know that Mt. Baker is the second-most glaciated volcano in North America, just after Mt. Rainier?

I didn’t either, but each of those peaks was astounding.

Driving back from Oregon into Wyoming, everyone in our car remarked “man, I love Wyoming” or “it’s so beautiful here.”

The world we live in may seem broken beyond repair, but even if the glaciers in Glacier melt within 5 years, those peaks will still be beautiful. As will the desert of Wyoming.

Get out and see this vast, amazing world. It always helps make your writing more realistic and draws your attention to the things you value most.

What do you think? What are some lessons you’ve learned from traveling? Do you think these lessons are true, or just something I made up? Share in the comments!

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