Lesson from 3,000 Miles on the Road with Dad

A drawing of an elk? at the White Mountain Petroglyphs

In the past six days, Dad and I have driven over 3,000 miles from Anchorage, Alaska, to here in Rawlins, Wyoming.  We’ve traveled through four national parks – Jasper, Banff, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons.  We’ve moved through three provinces and almost two full states.  We’ve seen elk, mule deer, antelope, and elk.  We’ve talked, listened to 1.5 books, spent several hours with NPR, and ridden in comfortable silence across some of the most majestic land I’ve ever seen.

I am tired. I am road-weary and homesick. I am relaxed, and I’m so grateful to have had this time with my dad.

Today, we visited the White Mountain Petroglyphs north of Rock Spring, Wyoming. These amazing drawings were carved between 1,000 and 200 years ago by the American Indian people who call this land home.  The drawings are holy, sacred. I put my hand above them with gratitude.

When we arrived at the beautiful sandstone rockface, we were alone, and we walked around the large rock outcropping and marveled at the stories told there. I couldn’t resist trying to read them. Were they like totem poles, where the images spoke a story of strength and power hierarchy? Were they stilllifes of specific moments? Or were they linear retellings?  I have no idea.

I left that beautiful place reminded that story is the core of how humans make sense of the world and that I am a storyteller.

Sometimes, I lose track of that in the push for sales and followers and all the other stuff that comes with being a writer.  Today, I am reminded.

That much time riding gives a person time to think, and today, I posted this on Facebook:

I want to write books. I want to travel for research and be home to write. I want to delve deep and settle in with stories.

I don’t want to be widely acclaimed or earn big fees for speaking. I don’t want to seek fame at the cost of the great fortune it is to be a writer.

This, my dear friends, is the great insight I have gained on this trip.

Stories, that’s what my life is made to be. Stories.

Sometimes it takes 3,000 miles to remember.

I don’t know what your life is made to be – teacher, welding, parenting, landscaping, selling, dancing – but whatever gives you joy, whatever slips into your mind when you need things to make sense . . . I hope you have a way to do it as much as possible.  Because we need you and all you do.

Here’s to 1,700 miles more with Dad and all the lessons of the road.