By opening up my pseudo-convertible, the sun warmed my head, I could glance all around at the tops of the collegiate peaks, and cool mountain air could flow completely through the vehicle. Beautiful driving, a couple weeks ago, on our Colorado roadtrip, it was. I have already told you some about our exciting rockcrawling adventures…
I didn’t tell you one of my favorite features of my beat-up 1997 mid-sized SUV: It has a sun roof. I’ve never had a sun roof before, in a car of mine. Also there is a button on the console that rolls down the window in the rear. The back of the car can open up on command. By dropping the four windows, sliding back the sun roof, and letting the back glass sink all the way down, you have an ‘almost’ convertible.
Out in the mountains of Colorado, I really appreciated letting the sun the sights and sounds come in from every direction. Something else came in too. The Smells.
At the beginning of our mountain driving, I was so excited and anxious. I was begging my wife to let me open up the car, and cruise. On I-70 the wind was wonderful but loud, at 60mph through the inclines and much, much faster on the way down. The sun too began to bake us. On our first day of mountain driving, we had almost reached Aspen by the time Lindsay mentioned the nasty smells that were spoiling our beautiful views.
With the car completely opened up, you get a new perspective on the road and traffic. Although you can’t see it with your eyes, your nose begins to tell you, that all the pretty Jeeps and Subarus and Mercedes SUV’s cruising along with you, are kinda farting their way down the interstate. Yeah, you really find out that our cars are relieving themselves mile after mile. The heavy, putrid corridor of polluted exhaust gas creates an invisible river of stench, and we just drive along through it.
I have been around enough to remember plenty of times that I noticed a nasty smell, coming from a vehicle up ahead. I usually hope the problematic smoke isn’t my own, and I notice when it clears up as I pass them. Most of the time it does
This was something different though. I had been waiting to get alone on the byway, and really enjoy the mountain air, instead of everyone else’s fumes. Then finally, just after cresting the peak of Independence Pass, and we were the only car on the road, the yuck, was still with us. When Lindsay said again, that the gassy odors were bothering her, it occurred to me, that we might be smelling our own exhaust.
As we twisted our way down the mountain at 25mph or so, that open back window was creating a draft, and it must’ve been sucking the air right from our tailpipe, into the car. Darn. My convertible and wide-open ride, was actually part of the problem. As soon as we rolled up the rear glass, and the fun swirling air ceased, we didn’t have to breath the nasty smog smells anymore. Problem, pretty muchly solved.
Since then, as I drive around, I have tested the theory again. If I’m not driving very fast, or the wind is just right, there it is, an almost headache inducing cocktail of exhaust smells, all of my own.
Okay, big deal. Who cares. Your old car smells yuck, probably needs a tune up, and you are pretending to have a convertible, when you don’t. Is this really a blog worthy topic???
Maybe not. True. BUT! The metaphor hit me just yesterday while cruising downtown Ottawa.
In the last few years, I do feel that I have opened up my mind, more than ever before. Whether it is new ideas about debt and money, living in sobriety, relationships and marriage, or even the real biggie, a spiritual walk with the Christ Jesus himself. I have found certain buttons that dropped open some of the windows in my mind. Maybe I didn’t do it at all. Maybe it was the divine hand of almighty God redirecting my life path. Who knows! I don’t.
Anyway, now that I feel more open, more aware, more awake to levels of consciousness that I didn’t know before, I seem to notice more of everything. My mind has more exposure to the beauty and divine artistic creation of our universe, the physical and spiritual. My soul is touched in most warm and heartfelt ways by little things. An a cappella version of Sanctuary, by the kids of Westminster on a Tuesday night at the end of a long day of VBS Day Camp, can melt my heart. Watching several strained steps taken by a fellow church member, heading into the local Wal-Mart yesterday, almost dropped me to my knees. Her spine was crushed in a car wreck last year, and now I saw her taking steps. Wow.
Just like opening the windows of the car, up in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, my life now is more rich with magical scenery than ever before. I am grateful for that. Just like that driving experience though, around others, sometimes I notice the fumes seem to spout continuously, spoiling the air for those nearby. I do hear things differently now. My ears can pick up the excuses, the hopelessness or cyclical self-fulfilling, self-defeating language. It is a yucky sound in my ear. I am bummed out, and let myself be bothered by it now. I never used to before. It just seemed normal, and even endearing, to hear about someone’s problems, gripes and maybe some gossip too.
Not so much anymore. I hear these thing differently now. It is hard not to think that when someone says they have no options, or are stuck, that there are plenty of things they haven’t tried. The victimhood seems so deeply ingrained, that it is woven into the fabric of our beings. And that stinks.
Yet! I am not finished.
Just like the analogy of the car, with it’s windows rolled down, I am experiencing lots of fumes that don’t come from someone else. My enjoyment of this ride of life, is just as polluted, or maybe made more toxic by my own byproducts than those around me. I see that clearly too. Opening up my mind, experiencing new ideas firsthand, I am quick to notice my own bullshit, and be bothered by it. I hear it in my own voice. I see it in my own actions, the re-actions, the non-actions and the too-little-too-late ones.
I am more aware than ever of my own faults these days. I ‘know’ that I can grab my own bootstraps at any time and get to work, and yet I don’t do it. I ‘feel’ that if I get on my knees give myself fully to the Lord God Almighty, that good will come of this pea-sized life of mine. Every day that I put that off, leaves me smelling the stink of my fear, my weakness and pride. I see more now than ever, my own smallness, my lack and yes my excuses too.
So, what is the solution? So many times I wish I could find the button again. I want to roll the windows back up. I want to see the world again through a greasy glass lens, that separates and distorts me from the truth. I want to hide behind the faux protection of this thin clear sheet. If only I could get back to that place where the problems all belonged to everyone else, and not to me. I could go back to living in the moment, feeding my flesh each of its desires. I could laugh again and talk trash, and tear down others, in order to prop myself up higher. I want it again like that, so many times, I embarrass myself.
But, I don’t think it works that way. These windows seem to have one-way motors. I still have more opening to do, to fully realize the expanse of the world seen and unseen that we’ve been give to occupy. I probably have them only barely cracked. I am grateful for these little clues I get, through everyday moments, like driving this budget 4×4 truck. I am bothered most, by my own smelly crap. If you see me, or talk with me, or have ever thought I may be depressed that day, it is probably because I am wallowing and sucking in too many of my own fumes.
I do thank you, for taking the time today to read the words on this page. This place is an outlet for some of my exhaust. I release little black characters of BS line by line, and most of it is worth just what you paid for it. Nothin’.
I hope you have a blessed day