Recently my husband purchased a car about 45 minutes north of Atlanta. Let’s say I was less than thrilled when he told me we would be driving six hours to pick up the car. I went into planning mode trying to figure out where the kids would stay, who would take care of the dog, and many more small details. Along the way, there were wrecks, many traffic jams, and at one point we were in standstill traffic. When we finally made it to the dealership and picked up the car, we mentioned to the salesman the terrible traffic we encountered on the way there. He suggested a different route to divert us away from traffic during our drive home. This is where my real journey began.
We were on two-lane highways for hundreds of miles, winding through so many small towns that I quit counting. In the beginning, all I could think about was that this route would take us an extra 30 minutes, but the longer I drove, the more those thoughts faded. I began to notice things. I rarely have time to “stop and smell the roses,” if you will. On this route, the trees were greener. I saw rustic farmhouses and homes tucked neatly away in the hills. Time stood still in these places. I saw people sitting on their front porches in swings. I passed through one small town that had a picture-perfect town square where people were sitting on benches waiting to get into a restaurant that no doubt had fantastic cuisine. Rivers, lakes, and ponds were all around me. Then it dawned on me. All of the things I noticed were the reasons I love to call Mississippi home.
I looked to my left and saw a large American flag blowing in the wind, and the sky behind it looked like cotton candy—the most beautiful blue and pink hues. As I merged back onto the highway, it was a stark reminder I was entering the real world once again. Cars were whirring by me, and people were honking. It occurred to me that my journey down those country roads had a striking parallel to my life. We are all trying to get everywhere as quickly as possible without any disturbances or interruptions. We often miss the beauty in things simply because we don’t have time. We live in a world of “the quicker, the better.” Our opportunities to truly enjoy things and people are limited.
This summer I encourage everyone to take the long way home. Make yourself go the extra mile. See all the beauty that abounds in Mississippi, and the many reasons it is so special to those of us who call it home. We may discover that when we take time to open our eyes to the things that surround us on a regular basis, we learn how genuinely lucky we are. I know I did.