In the planning stages of this trip, I remember lying awake at night thinking of all the details that needed to be arranged: parks to stay at, people to meet up with, budgets to maintain. In my sleep, I juggled these different balls of responsibility, imagining the worst case scenario if everything didn’t line up.
Then suddenly I’d wake, eyes like white and blue boulders staring into the darkness, my mind ceaseless in it’s fear… “if we don’t find a Wal-mart to stay at on the third night of our second week, what will we do? What if we have to park in one of those forlorn, polluted truck stops where unthinkable evil lurks in the night? What if someone shatters our double thick windows or pries open our bolted, metal door and murders us in our sleep, stealing our children away to the most horrendous, hellish future? We can’t take this trip; the possibilities are unbearable.”
But then a dear friend planted this little seed in my mind: “What if it’s not horrible? What if you don’t have to control every situation or every person along the way and in the end it turns out to be the most fantastic thing you’ve ever done?”
I was compliant and allowed that seed to stay where she sowed it. But I held onto my fears. I spent the first 2 months of our trip, pruning and watering the thorny vine of my fear, occasionally meandering over to my friend's seed, buried deep in the soil, and giving it the tiniest dribble of nourishment.
Funny enough, it didn’t need much. While my fear-laden vine required the precise care of sleepless nights and imaginary disasters, my friend’s simple seed sprouted and grew upon the kind emails received on a bouncy bus ride, an unexpected gift from a stranger-now-friend, Easter candy given on the streets of New Orleans, a bank envelope handed to us that we neither expected or deserved, the sincerest hug from a long-lost friend I’ve never met. Countless small moments and welcome surprises fed and bolstered that small seed, till it’s hearty stalk blossomed forth the most durable petals of hope.
No, I don’t expect the rest of this trip to be perfect. In fact, I anticipate imperfection at every turn. However, I’m realizing that giving up control doesn’t leave the door open to distaster; it paves the way for wonderfully unseen opportunities.
And suddenly, I see flowers all around me.