I did not have very many good writing topic ideas for today. My brain is fried. I lack creativity and crave more sleep. I need to do laundry, dust my house, and sit down for a time with no demands made of me.
I survived a three day road trip to the furthermost tip of Texas -- the Valley.
The Texas State University string trio, TreSorelle, was invited to visit several school districts and offer performances and workshop clinics to students. It was an ambitious and intense program and schedule, and to really sweeten the pot, we drove the 4.5 hours to and fro. Our days were crammed full with teaching and performing, and we had barely a few hours to call our own. Road trips of this magnitude can be an overwhelming drain on energy and stamina. Trips like this can bring out the worst attitudes and traits in a person.
This trip went so smoothly. It was actually enjoyable. We laughed and smiled a great deal during the entire adventure. We were happy to be doing what we were doing, not only because we enjoy what we do, but because we enjoy each other and what each of us brings to the experience. I have been on other road trips of this type, but this one is a trip that I will remember because of how enjoyable it was to spend a few days in close proximity with some of the most special people I know in my work place.
I thought about what made this experience so easy to handle, and several thoughts came to mind. I thought of 8 reasons why I found it so easy to survive this road trip:
Good Humor. Each of my colleagues has a ready smile and an easy, unaffected laugh. Both of them look on the bright side of things in general, even in negative situations or unpleasant environments. They are quick to forgive and forget slights or other unpleasantness. I cannot recall laughing as often as I did during these past few days. I must remember that a good sense of humor, both as a listener and as a conversationalist, helps to smooth over any rough edges and provides positive enthusiastic energy.
Expectancy. Each of my colleagues maintained an attitude of expectancy. So often people look for bad things to occur. This is also a form of expectancy but not the type that I am writing about now. What I mean by expectancy is that we kept ourselves open to receive anything and everything. We strived to avoid having any preconceived notions about what might occur during this visit to the schools. We kept ourselves open to whatever experience or encounter we met. This attitude made it easy to maintain the next attitude.
Flexibility. The attitude of flexibility means that we were ready for anything that came our way. Some teachers wanted us to perform and talk to the students about our university. Other teachers wanted us to listen to the students perform and then offer constructive ideas for improvement. Still others wanted us to do all of these things as well as offer individual assistance to promising students. My colleagues and I kept our attitudes flexible so that we could accommodate any and all requests. This attitude went a long way toward making our schedule easy to live with. In a way, it was also fun because we were not bored with our schedule. There was something unusual and new in almost every part of our days. Staying flexible made it easier to handle any bumps along the way.
Good Company. I find it easy to enjoy the company of anyone who shares an upbeat attitude, and who is kind, compassionate, open, sharing, friendly, caring, and considerate. My colleagues have these qualities and more, as did the school directors that we worked with and then spent time with at the end of the day. They were all a terrific bunch!
Snacks. Part of the fun of the road trip experience were the road trip snacks. Everyone had their favorite road trip snack. I think there is much to learn about a person by the type of snacks they choose on a road trip. Healthy food, garbage food, a mixture? Road trips tend to bring out that side of us that wants to indulge in snacks "just this once," and it was interesting to see what that "once" meant to everyone.
Sharing and Shared Experiences. The road trip brings people together in a close space for a long period of time. It is easy to breed a situation that is fraught with difficulties. In our experience, the more intimate small space of the vehicle we drove allowed us to share experiences on a very personal level. This situation might be difficult with some people, but in our case, the three of us were very happy to share things together. Not only did we share details about our personal lives, but also about our personal hopes and plans for the future. We created a safe environment for all of us to share a part of ourselves with each other, and that sharing allowed us to build a much closer connection with each other as a group. Along with this sharing of our own personal experiences, the long road trip presented us with experiences to share together. We were able to experience the same events and offer each other different responses and perspectives, which allowed us to know each other even better.
Downtime Together and Apart. We spent a great deal of time with each other, yet we allowed each other time and space apart. We might have had a mere thirty minutes before the next activity, but we used that time to find a quiet space alone to practice, reflect, or merely close our eyes and rest for a little bit. Even our time in our motel rooms at the end of our long days we spent alone and allowed ourselves a breather to rest in order to renew our energy for the next day.
Coming Home. When we got home, we were all glad to finish the trip. We had a successful experience. We worked with many students and visited many school directors and programs. We performed numerous times for receptive audiences. When we returned our vehicle, there was a reluctance in the air to separate from each other. We seemed to hang on a little while longer in each other's presence rather than dash off to our respective homes. We really did have a wonderful and successful road trip. It was good to come home though too. I was able to drive away with good spirits because I knew that I would see my good friends and colleagues in a few days.