“Get up!!! We’re leaving in 30 minutes.”
“You heard me. Hurry up!”
I was home for the summer from college. I was staying the night at my church youth leaders house. Bob was up to something, it was 4:30 in the morning but I’d learned by then not to ask questions. I threw some clothes on and met him at the car 30 minutes later.
“Where are we going?”
We drove in silence for the most part. I finally had enough gumption to ask again, “Where are we going?” He just sat there driving… in silence… with a silly grin on his face. I couldn’t help but laugh and say, “You’re crazy. You know that, right?” The surprise was a blast, but it was also driving me nuts. “So you’re not gonna tell me anything, are you?”
Eventually, we reached Interstate 75 and headed south… I tried to use this to pry out some details, but his lips were sealed.
I slowly drifted off to sleep and the life lesson had already begun. I just didn’t know it yet.
Bob pulled the car into a rest stop a few hours later. “Get Up!!! Your turn to drive.” he shouted at me as he shook me out of a deep sleep.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
I moved over into the driver’s seat, “Destination?” I asked getting agitated.
With that silly grin still on his face, he pulled his hat down over his eyes and pretended to drift off to sleep without saying a word.
“Des-ti-na-tion?”, I said to him, even more agitated.
I put the car in gear and started to drive onto the freeway waiting for him to answer.
Finally he did…
“You don’t know where you’re going?”, he asked.
“No, I don’t!!! Could you…?”
I asked him, “What do you mean and what was this was all that about?”.
He laughed at me and said, “This is priceless! The look on your face is perfect! Just like I planned it.”.
I’m sure I did look stupid and puzzled.
“I don’t get it.” I stammered.
“Consider it my first gift to you.” he responded.
He turned in to me and took a more serious tone.
”David, you’re an adult now. The world’s about to change for you, and you gotta be ready. When you’re a kid, you go wherever somebody else tells you to go. You don’t have much of a choice. But as an adult, not only do you get to choose, you have to choose. If you don’t, life or someone else will choose for you, and you probably won’t like what they come up with. You gotta know your destination and have a plan for getting there.”
I took it all in as he continued.
”It’s a lot like planning a trip. What’s your destination? How are you gonna get there; who’s going with you? You gotta know what it’s gonna cost and ask yourself if you’re willing to pay that price. You won’t always be, and you’ll choose a new destination. Once you decide, you gotta get packed and ready. Do you have everything you’ll need once you get there? Are you equipped? If not, what are you gonna do about it?”
We kept talking throughout the rest of the drive. He shared some times in his life when he’d planned well, and some times he didn’t. He told me where he thought I might be headed and we talked through the questions he’d laid out for me.
By the time we got to Florida, I’d learned a lesson that has guided me ever since. It’s up to me. No one’s going to hand me the life I’m here to live. If I want it, I need a plan.
Of course, I have lived a lot of life since then, I’m well aware that even when we have a plan, things don’t always work out as we’d thought. But I’m also convinced that course correction is much easier than flying aimlessly, no particular destination in mind, hoping we end up somewhere nice.
It was one of my most memorable trips I have ever taken – a great trip, just Bob and me.
Cancer took Bob from his family and me over four years ago. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. I still haven’t erased his phone number off my phone. I keep it there and try to fool myself into believing that I could call him and have a conversation just like the one we had on this trip all those years ago.
Sitting in that car trying to figure out where we were going and having him just look at me with the stupid grin on his face, just waiting for the right moment to teach me a lesson. I’ll carry that moment with me for the rest of my life.
I find that the lessons that Bob taught back then are more and more important to me with the passing of time.
Where are you going? What’s your destination?
When and how do you plan to get there?
Who’s going with you? What will it cost you to try? Are you willing to pay that price?
Are you equipped for the journey ahead? If not, what are you gonna do about it?