As I grew older, the road trips became my own. I became the pilot of my own craft, navigating by starlight. I learned to balance my gaze between the road and the heavens; became better at catching sight of faint glimmers in my periphery.
Then, I travelled by night and by highway regularly. I taught music late into the evening in small towns several times a week and played gigs all over the map on weekends. My life was well suited to stargazing and writing and thinking, if not very well suited to making money. Still, I worked hard, travelled far and made a reasonable income.
From time to time, as I put more and more kilometres on my poor, under-maintenanced car, I'd catch sight of something truly breath-taking and I'd pull over to watch. Each time it would be like reclaiming a small sphere of silence; a few moments of wonder just for myself. I would be a child again, gazing upward with soft wide eyes.
Over time the travels became more routine. Over time I worried more about getting home than about enjoying a night drive. Over time, I remembered to look up less and less often. My eyes hardened. My routes became stiff and inflexible; my drives automated and robotic.
I gave up my travels with music. The income was a windfall for a young university student; the hours manageable for a tireless night-owl. But it was not the life for a home-owner. It was not the life for the building and strengthening of a relationship. It was not a life that ensured security or comfort.
I completed school. I dropped many of my gigs, retaining only what was most enjoyable or lucrative. I worked predictable hours. I contended with rush hour traffic and construction rather than deer and slow-moving farm equipment.
I don't regret it.
I play music for enjoyment rather than to make ends meet. It has become a bonus rather than a burden. I teach because I love it, not because I need more hours to pay the bills. I travel out of passion rather than necessity. I will not be wealthy, but I am secure.
And yet there are moments. There are times like these. There are times I forget. I forget where I came from. I forget what my life once was and in doing so, I forget some of my earliest pleasures and passions.
The image is difficult to capture. I can't quite grasp it; can't quite pin it down. In fighting rush hour, I forget the joy of night driving. In trying to get home for dinner, I forget what it was like to stop and look up at the stars. In worrying about finances I forget what it was to have no money over which to worry. In working a challenging and consuming job, I forget where thoughts can travel if allowed to wander. The thoughts shift unnoticeably - like the lights. They are fluid; lacking structure.