Room to Make a Big Mistake

I don’t own a car, anymore. Living in DC, it’s relatively easy to get by without one. I say relatively, because there are days and activities when it would make life so. Much. Easier. Like, big Trader Joe’s pantry stock ups, or Ikea trips, or any time you have to go to Virginia. But still, there is zip car, and car2go, and Uberx, and the ever-popular friend-with-a-car. I’m usually able to cobble together a happy carless existence.

But I miss driving. When I was younger, growing up in Kansas, a long drive was how I got to thinking, had some time to ruminate on things. I am a big ruminator, chewing on a problem, grinding my teeth over it for days, weeks, months. Some might say I obsess, but I prefer to say I ruminate. Eventually I digest the idea and figure out what to do next. It just takes some work and worry to get there. Driving through those wide open spaces cleared my head and helped me focus.

So this weekend, when I had the opportunity to drive back to Wichita from Kansas City while I was visiting my folks, I jumped on it. I used to make that drive all the time, the first or last leg of any trip from home to college in Minnesota. I could make that drive in my sleep, and on more that one late night or early morning drive from school, almost did. The Flint Hills that make up the bulk of the drive are like God’s Little Acre, rolling green and grey, covered in happy cows and wild horses. It’s bucolic, as my father said. It’s serene. It’s the wide open space I didn’t know I was missing.

DC is frenzy, and chaos, and competition. It’s brawling ambition and deadlines, and the next big thing. I’ve been chewing on a particular decision, one that seems simple on paper, but hard in practice, and in DC I keep trying to come to a decision, a conclusion, because it always feels like time’s a-wastin’ there. The entire city taps it’s foot it at you, and I kind of like that, most of the time. But I’ve pressured myself into so many decisions in the past because I was afraid I was wasting time, or just to get out of the discomfort of not knowing, or just for the love of God do something, because I am such a doer. Some of these decisions have worked, some of them haven’t, but none of them came without struggle. I just didn’t want to make a mistake, and wait too long at the fair. As though doing something, anything, could insulate me from trouble.

But I’m not ready to do anything, right now. That’s what the Flint Hills told me. Or, more precisely, I’m tired of doing. I do so much doing. I would like yo not do for a while, and see what unfolds. To consciously not make a decision, and what happens. Perhaps it will be a mistake too, perhaps I will have waited too long, and my fear that drove decision making will be realized. But I’ve begun to see that there’s a value in knowing you might be making a mistake, and doing it anyway for the lesson. I’ve got nothing but wide open spaces, and room to make a big mistake.


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