Driving: a letter to my father

Recently I started a masters program in Vancouver and have been spending a lot of time in the car making the hour and half commute (or more depending on traffic) to school from home. This has given me ample opportunity to be alone with myself and my thoughts. Today I found myself thinking about you as I often do when I am in the car and especially when I am lost. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to call you for directions when I make a wrong turn not only because I live in a state you’ve never traveled to but also because there’s no cell phone reception wherever it is you go once you are no longer living. Still I find myself asking for your help or wishing I could.

One of my recurring thoughts is how much time you spent alone on the road in my lifetime. Maybe you didn’t plan on it, but you are inextricably linked in mind to cars, traffic, road trips and gas stations. As it happens all of these have become a daily occurrence in my normally car-less existence. I think you would have really liked having an i-pod to listen to because radios play terrible music and there are parts of the country where there is no reception and you are hurling through space in a hunk of metal all alone. With. Just. Your. Thoughts.

I remember mom saying –and I have personally experienced- you would call while on the road with the most abstract ideas, surely a result of the abundance of free time with which your mind had been allowed to revel in. I think I underestimated your intelligence when I was younger. I think you underestimated it too.

I find that this new stretch of time to think works as a sort of pressure relief valve for all the thoughts that had been bottled up inside waiting for the chance to be exposed as whole functioning theories on life, love, etc. I don’t always enjoy what I find. Today my thoughts wandered into a thorny place: What am I sacrificing to gain a masters degree? The answers were too overwhelming to fully appreciate, but I feel trapped in the momentum of things.

This weekend I just wanted to play in the sun with my son and not to worry about readings or papers or applications for scholarships. Today on my way to school I thought I would rather just devote myself to dancing and working a regular job. (What job in this economy?!)  I could take less classes but then I will just have to make them up later, right now I have funding, later I might not…

Is it really that I don’t want to be here or is it just that I am afraid? Maybe I am afraid I am not good enough or that I wont like it, but what if it is that I am afraid I will like it too much? That I will lose myself… Who is this self anyway?

Your advice was always to stick with it. Whatever direction you’ve chosen, to just keep going, to see it through, but to see it through to what? I think you gave up a lot of dreams by following your own advice. Like maybe doing crazy things, risking your life, somehow felt safer than following your heart. Or maybe you gave them up for us. Maybe that’s why you’ve always been so supportive of me following mine, why you always encouraged me to go and do all these adventures I dreamed up. And that is why I am here doing this big scary thing called grad school, because even though it’s hard and I want to quit, following my heart is what brought me here, so now is the time to follow your advice and stick with it, for both of us.

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