The Nashville recording session ran late and it was a Tennessee cold kind of night. As the car warmed up, I checked the time. Add the hour back, Dana. With that, I knew I’d be hitting that mountain at 2:00 a.m. Amidst the warm goodbyes, a cold breeze slapped my cheek reminding me it was time to leave my beloved musician friends.
I am not a stranger to the east coast roadways from Maine to Miami, particularly the Atlanta-Nashville route. So driving alone at 2:00 a.m. is not new to me. Actually, I enjoy the aloneness as I move through the darkness. There is something very serene about traveling in solitude under the stars with my soundtrack, or even silence, with no idle conversations to pass the time. Usually, I am grateful for these drives. But not this night.
As I began to ascend the mountain, I climbed higher and higher into dense fog. Even with lowbeams, the most I could see was twenty feet in front of my car. I slowed to ten miles per hour as I clung to the dotted line in the middle of the road. Then halfway up the mountain, I heard that familiar faint crackle. Small pellets of ice began hitting my windshield. I realized I would have to come back down this same hill into Georgia with four decent tires and angel wings because there is no place to stop. Pulling off to the side in these conditions on these curvy roads would be very dangerous. My head throbbed and I wanted to stop, yet moving forward was my only choice.
I came up behind a tractor trailer making his way down the treacherous icy steep grade. His lights became a beacon to me, illuminating the road and giving me some comfort. If he could pave the way, then I could follow safely behind him. Slowly and steadily, we drove down the dark icy tightrope. It took us an ungodly amount of time at less than 10 mph; yet together we descended the mountain safely and came out of the fog in the night’s darkest hour. I turned on to 75 South and gave him a highbeam flicker of gratitude.
As we emerge from the fog of 2016, our hearts burst with dreams of betterness, or of more simplicity, prosperity, forgiveness, or new beginnings. Some of us make resolutions, some of us make affirmations, and some of us join the office pool to see who falls off their self-improvement wagon first. At midnight, we all hold visions of possibility, and as we count backwards from ten and raise our glass, we hold great hope that these possibilities can finally become our realities. But dreams, without work, are just imagination at play. (I know this because I have a graveyard of fitness equipment.) Unless we keep our dreams affixed in our daily vision, by February, they are nothing more than forgotten wishes.
My doctor tells me that 20/20 vision means that with my glasses, I should be able to see what a person with “normal” vision can see at twenty feet. As a strong coffee addict who is often lost in deep metaphorical thought, I am intrigued. Why twenty feet? Why not ten feet, or even thirty feet? What is it about twenty feet that is the standard? Although I have Googled this to find some answer, I prefer my own supposition for the purposes of this article. Perhaps us humans are only expected to have clarity at twenty feet because that’s all we really need to see well enough to move forward. The night I came down the mountain in the ice, I didn’t need to see Fayetteville, or even Atlanta. I just needed to see the next twenty feet, and then the next twenty feet after that. In small twenty foot increments, I found my way home. And of all the times I traveled there, this is the journey I remember.
For your 2017 dreams, make a vision board or find some tangible way to set your attainable goal of twenty feet. Getting from where you are now to where you want to go is completely possible. Our year should not expect failure by the third week, but should be a twelve-month celebration of milestones strung together like pearls. Sometimes twenty feet is all you want, sometimes it’s all you get. But you can get anywhere twenty feet at a time and it will be a journey you remember.