The Oregon Coast is a magical place. There are sweeping coastlines, beaches with waterfalls, hiking trails with incredible views, and even a place where you can see the remnants of a shipwreck. I feel lucky to live relatively close to it.
I say relatively close because it’s a 70-80 mile drive from where I am. Not exactly a quick jaunt, but definitely something you can decide to do at the last minute. I did exactly that last weekend because it had been so hot my underboob sweat was sweating, and I needed to beat the heat.
I spent the afternoon out there, and decided to hang out and watch the sunset. It was pretty spectacular, but then I had to make the long drive home alone (sorry, mom). Now, I’m not a nervous driver by any means. If I had to describe my driving it would be somewhere between “I’m just trying not to get a ticket” and “I have nothing to live for.”
Driving back from the coast at night is not something I particularly enjoy. The roads dwindle down to two lanes, and can be difficult to navigate because of slopes and tight curves. I feel fine managing my own driving, but if you’ve ever driven in the Northwest you know it’s not famous for it’s world-class drivers.
There was a point in my drive when I was intermittently facing cars that were driving in the opposite direction. When it’s pitch black and a 4×4 comes barreling in your direction with headlights that were obviously designed for a search and rescue effort, even a familiar road becomes unfamiliar.
Every time a car would come by I’d memorize the road ahead of me, and then look down at the yellow lines on the road. For a moment I was blinded, but somehow managed to stay on course simply by going on my memory and a bit of gut instinct.
I’ve thought a lot about how that’s a perfect metaphor for life. You plan everything out, you know where you’re going, and somehow darkness falls and you can’t see five feet in front of you. All you can do is grip the metaphorical steering wheel and hope you don’t crash and burn.
School teaches us how to find X if we know Y, and how the Eastern Orthodox Church has roots in the Byzantine Empire, but you don’t get a class on how to survive adulthood. At every high school graduation someone will give a speech about how the graduates have the rest of their lives ahead of them. What they fail to mention is that they’ll need holy water, sorcery and dumb luck to do it.
Over the course of my life I’ve had trying moments (if 5-year stretches count as moments), but the last couple of years have felt especially difficult. I’ve done my best to take the high road in tough situations, to grow from negative experiences, to forgive people who didn’t deserve it, to experience big life moments alone, to climb out of crippling depression.
And yet, even when my life was full of blind spots, I ended up exactly where I needed to be. Sometimes it was the place I had planned on, and other times it was a completely different, but significantly better, destination. That’s the funny thing about life, you don’t always need to see everything ahead of you; in fact, sometimes it’s better not to.
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow let alone next year. I have a good idea of who I’d like to be and where I’d like to be, but life doesn’t offer any guarantees. All I can do is keep moving forward and trust that if I do encounter a blind spot, I’ll be okay.