The gap between “is” and “could have been” determines so much of who and what we are. Most of our lives are then spent trying to either overcome the gap or trying to overcome the fact that there is so much of a gap.
For most of my life I have never really wanted to be something/someone, thus relegating this gap to the confines of expectations of others from me. Later, it did surface, mostly in the forms of numerous confusions relating to mostly my personal being and at an even later stage at the professional side of my life. Those years were exceedingly chaotic and pretty confusing, especially since age does obstruct much in allowing you to have a realistic estimation of “is”. The tendency was, in my case, for that estimation to be always off. The cornerstone being off thus leads to every dependent direction and structure being flawed. Those were some really trying and frustrating times.
It is easy to preach and be told that you need to make the right choices and that there are always choices. In real life it is much much harder. Neither fear nor experience helped me to stick to the resolve to make choices that were wise. Over time I must have discovered a million loopholes to sneak myself out of making the right calls. The more creative you are, the worse it gets. What eventually worked was to deal with myself in the same manner that you deal with a petulant and difficult child. Go over the basics, step-by-step, hold the self accountable for actions and decisions. Not that it works all the time, but it works more often than not now. Learning is often a suboptimal experience and it almost always looks much better in retrospect than in real time.
Tread softly, live gently. You can always choose to let be where the obvious and easiest choice is to destroy. One of the lovely things that endurance driving teaches you is to respect things around you and to be aware of your surroundings, your abilities and your weaknesses. You negate the weaknesses and optimize for your strengths. In the beginning, I would drive insanely long stints like a madman. I was lucky enough to get away with some crazy risks, but I have learnt well. Long road journeys are pretty humbling experiences. You see so much on it — people living and dying, people with so little giving and smiling so much, people with so much hoarding and scowling so much — that you can’t help but be shown your own insignificance in the world and most importantly, how fortunate you are to have what you have and yet how ungrateful you can be about it.
As I sit now, planning out another long road trip and tying up various loose ends that need to be sorted out before I can leave, the feeling is one of optimism, that it will all work out well eventually. That said, the optimism is not a persistent thing. The past two years have been harder than what I would like to ever admit. But, over time, I have learned that such uncertainties are part of life if you make choices that are not considered safe and predictable. Over time, I have moved more in favour of survival, from the earlier approach of being focussed on avoidance. Trying to change what can’t be changed is futile and a waste of effort. Even with the best planning, every journey has to overcome its fair share of roadblocks. You complete the journeys in spite of them than look to walk away because of them.
In the days to come I’ll once again do my sums, connect the dots and hope I have most things covered and pray that failures on all fronts are ones that are survivable. Then the clock shall strike midnight once more, a final run of checks will be made and as the night passes its darkest hour, I’ll sneak out once again into its embrace, keeping eyes firmly on the road and a heart warming in anticipation of the first sight of the hills and the days of beautiful desolation to come.