This morning, after taking the kids to school, I decided to wash my car. While driving in town, through town, I had an epiphany. I love driving! This morning, it was in silence. My own personal silence with a large windshield open to see a sliver of the lives of others. Men in business suits with steaming cups of coffee in stainless steel travel mugs walking to their cars. Kids and babies being gathered into arms or shepherded out the front door, strapped snugly into carseats to be dropped off at school or day care. This morning, in the private silence, behind the windshields, I got to peek into the comings and goings–the beginning of a brand new day full of possibility.

Other times, I turn music on–and loud. Get swept up, carried away, lost in lyric, beat, and harmony. These times probably I have sunglasses on with the windows rolled down breathing in the fresh asphalt air. Still, the view of the world from the windshield. What tune is he singing along to as though no one is watching? Do they have checklists and deadlines and people needing all the things? Is this their place apart too?

And then there are the trips where I get to fold my legs up under me with a book on my lap. The promise of a new destination, or a familiar vacation, or back to theres-nothing-like-my-own-bed. But in this sweet space between point A and point B, there’s no other choice but to sit. For hours. Hour after hour to delve. Into books or conversation. To wonder. To dream. Probably once or twice to dis-agree and come full circle again to re-agreement. Rushing past houses and farms and little towns and big cities, rivers and lakes, factories and office buildings. How did you end up here instead of there? What does life look like miles and miles away from a Walmart or shopping mall? Or what is it like to be One of One million?

Always, in driving, lives momentarily intersect. Where are you going? Where have you been? All with a path. A purpose. A plan. And yet, we all (most) make allowances for the other. Keep a safe distance. Take turns at a four way stop. Yield when turning left. We’ve learned its better for me to get where I’mgoing if I make allowances for you. Is it the same once I step outside of the machine? On the roads of the heart, are allowances made? Do I know where I’m going? Do I know where I’ve been? Do I rage when someone doesn’t live up to my expectation? OR. Is there something to be learned in the journey? Detours allowed. Rest stops. Scenic overlooks. A smile and a wave to those also along their way.

May you look out the windshield of your car and your heart and wonder. Make allowances. Enjoy this road trip–the drive–for this is what life really is.

aubrey bates