Getting There...

Judith Campbell
Published on: September 2012
Tomorrow I'm driving to Italy on holiday. The last time I drove there was for a cousin's wedding. The drive was supposed to take six hours. I set off on the Friday morning at 9.30 am and arrived at 11.30 am the next day - a mere half an hour before the wedding started!

How could a six hour journey end up taking 26? Luckily, I'm someone who loves the open road. I find driving relaxing. I listen to my favourite music. I do a lot of thinking. I'm not someone for whom the journey is just a necessary evil to reach the destination.
getting there,holiday
I started off with a reasonable notion of where I was going - UK guests were flying to a certain Italian airport, so my plan was to make for that town and pick up the signs for the village there. I drove over the mountains from Switzerland into Italy. It was a sunny day, the scenery spectacular. In Italy, I learned to drive like an Italian (not necessarily a good idea.) I stopped at a service station and struck up a conversation with a woman, who has become a close friend. I carried on. I drove and drove. With the luxury of time to think, I solved a problem that had been bugging me for a long time. I felt so happy. I stopped for a coffee, sharing a table with a British couple, who were so funny I thought I might die from laughing.

The sun became a huge red ball and still I was driving. Eventually, I saw a sign for the town of Rimini. I'd been on holiday there when I was 19 and laughed out loud, remembering the fun we'd had - eating spaghetti for the first time, our first real cappuccinos, acting stupid, flirting with the local boys. But I also knew that Rimini was MILES away from where I needed to be. I stopped at a garage and bought a map (something I don't bother with normally.) I had over shot my destination by a good two hours' driving, but I wasn't discouraged. I would get there.

I turned and drove north. When night fell I was on a small road winding through the hills. I pulled off into a village and got the last room in the only hotel. I went out for a walk to stretch my legs. A full moon had risen; the village was quaint and utterly peaceful. That night I slept like a baby in an enormous bed whose sheets were of cool linen and fragrant with lavender.

Next morning I phoned the hotel where the wedding was and where I'd been supposed to stay the night before. I told the guy at reception where I was. "WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING THERE?" he shouted in shock down the phone. "I thought you were coming from Switzerland?" I told him I had. "Then WHY are you there?"

Two hours later, when I arrived at the hotel after a delicious drive through glorious scenery, I received a hero's welcome Hotel staff and family actually clapped me into the hotel. I was celebrated as the most intrepid of explorers, the bravest of creatures, the most courageous of drivers!
Nobody could understand why I wasn't furious about my detour. How could I be? Hadn't I solved a nagging problem, made a lifelong friend, laughed so hard I thought I'd die, discovered a charming village, slept in the best bed ever?

I made the journey part of the experience and life is exactly the same. Life is not something that begins once you have more money, change jobs, retire, or your kids finish college. Life is NOW! It's every second of every day and you can make those seconds count by making the most of them. Or - you can waste them by wishing them away, until one day you wake up and wonder where they've all gone.

So tomorrow, when I set off, I won't be plugging in the GPS or poring over a map. I have a vague notion of where I'm going and that's good enough for me. Whatever happens, I will enjoy the journey and I will get there.
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