We head east away from cool coastal fog and drive down the rim of the oblong shaped baking dish which is the valley at California’s center. It is triple digit hot, little vegetation grows on either side of the road; the landscape looks beige and dry. By the time we travel north on Highway 5 towards Stockton, Sacramento and Chico, we are blessing the car air conditioner–a small haven of cold inside a huge and relentless hot.
We do not want to leave our artificial climate, but there is more gas, water, food to buy and rest stops to visit. We arrive at our destination more than 8 hours later, collapsing on the bed in our hotel room. Even the pool does not look inviting since evening shade has not yet arrived. Heat has definitely confronted our sense of normalcy.
We had been invited to dinner and re-enter a hot car to visit family. We marvel at the delightful energy of a 5 year old and a 3 year old. I sit with my welcoming ice water feeling a bit weak from potential heat exhaustion but still the proud grandmother. My daughter encourages me to take a cool shower when a wet washcloth doesn’t seem to help.
Afterwards, I notice my younger grandson had discovered a new phrase, “for the rest of my life,” which he repeats several times, and this makes me smile. It also gives me reason to ponder. What can I say is true “for the rest of my life?”
That night, I have a vivid dream. I am giving a talk which is not being well received by my audience. In the dream, I quickly change course. I do not allow myself to become shy or unnerved. I dig deep into myself and bring forth the truth of that moment. Looking back at that dream, I am thinking, I wish adjusting to challenge were always that easy.
I know for the rest of my life that “change” is both a confrontation and an opportunity. The unexpected often requires difficult re-orientation, and traveling is the type of adventure that often tests our capacity to deal with the variabilities of life.