365 Grateful: 03.19.2014

365 - 03-19-2014

Grateful for the power of a Quantum Flirt, that “short-lived, transient, perceptual signal which can be used to provide us with insight.”

Quantum flirts are affiliated with quantum physics. They’re everywhere and come in any form. What matters is not so much what they are but how (or that) we notice them. Whatever meaning we unfold from a flirt can be anything from a major perspective shift to a gentle affirmation. I’d probably roll up happenstance, serendipity, and coincidence under the Quantum Flirt umbrella.

But let me explain …

I’m driving to work today, following my usual route. I reach this intersection, as I do each weekday, where I have to decide if I’m going straight or turning left. Each takes me where I need to be. Each offers different environments, different scenery, a different ambience. As I near the point of decision, I let my mind chase rabbit trails like a beagle, and what leaps before its sniffing is this:

The straight route pleases my senses. The left route is a wee bit more expedient but less lovely and serene.

So that starts me contemplating the greater meaning of my morning’s rabbit hunt, and thus it hits me: These routes I drive – to work, to shop, to “do” something – are nothing more than a physical iteration of my path through life. The routes I choose to follow, not to mention why I choose to follow them, say a lot about how I pick my way through life.

And now the Quantum Flirt that’s been stalking me as I’ve been stalking it through the underbrush of thoughts stands fully in the open. I think about it as I drive … straight.

  • Do I most often select a route that delivers me most expediently from A to B?
  • Do I drive on autopilot, selecting the same routes over and over and over because they’re drilled into my brain like ruts on a dirt road after a long winter?
  • Do I strategically plan out my route like a Triple-A TripTik so I can get everything done in one swoop?
  • Do I point the car in whatever direction feels best and just go, following my fancy?

When I was a child, my father was the superintendent of our county’s State Highway Department. On Sundays, after eating an early supper, we’d pile into the car for the quintessential Sunday drive. Now, for us kids, it was obviously a fun chance to go for a ride. The trip generally had some larger purpose associated with Dad’s job, of course, but there was an element of discovery in it for him, too.

I find myself smiling because that’s obviously where my driving style originated: Dad’s Purposeful Discovery Style of Driving. My need to “turn up this road; let’s see where it goes” or “let’s take this road home” isn’t an aberration. It’s an eternal itch to see what’s out there, to discover what’s new, different, interesting, beautiful, thought-provoking. Yet, there’s still that purpose that, pardon the pun, drives the whole thing.

I can and do drive expediently, on autopilot, strategically, and even whimsically, but I realize the heart of my driving is purposeful discovery. It’s why I can take off on a quick trip to the store and return hours later with the tank half full — half empty if you’re a pessimist.

For me, expedient and strategic driving focuses on goals, getting things done, not wasting time. (Or I’m late, which also reflects a goal of sorts). What I know is that, when I focus so intently on goals and accomplishments, I usually miss what’s blooming along the road. That can be a pretty significant loss; I’m the poorer for it.

Any autopilot driving I fall into focuses on preoccupation. What I know is that I’m not mindful or conscious of the journey or even of the “why” behind it. It leaves me emptier and dissatisfied.

When whimsy captures my driving fancy, it focuses on fun and possibilities. What I know is that I don’t always get where I’m going or accomplish what I’d hoped, and it leaves me more stressed and incomplete (although it was fun in the moment).

My purposeful discovery driving, though? Well, now, that focuses on goals and accomplishments as well as the journey itself, the why behind it, and the possibilities of the moment. What I know is this: when it’s over, I am fulfilled, satisfied, and happier. Oh, Dad. You were so wise.

So tomorrow, let’s get in our vehicles, turn the key, and drive off to work (or to wherever we must go) with mindful attention to just how we do it.

  • Autopilot? Deliberately find a new route.
  • Strategically? Mindfully chase a rabbit along a different path.
  • Expediently? Allow extra time for the longer, more scenic route.
  • Whimsically? Plan three strategic stops.
  • Purposeful Discovery? Wow, as much as I’d like to say don’t change a thing, that’s hardly enlightening. So try driving expediently. Or strategically. Even whimsically. I’d stay away from autopilot, though.

Who knows? Maybe it will enrich your life, offer new perspectives, and stimulate new ways of thinking. At the very least, you’ll find new routes to navigate inevitable detours. The bonus? You may just discover something significant along the way.

Oh, and on Sunday? Go for a random drive, but have an end, a purpose, in mind. Make sure you get there, but don’t worry about how you do it. In the words of my late great-aunt Jo, going for a drive is a great way to “blow the stink off,” whatever that might mean to you.

Yeah, she had the same gene as Dad. I’m happy to share it, too.

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