My dad had a fondness for a few things: coffee, computers, crafting melodies, Christmastime. In fact, so passionate was he about this last, he aimed to extend it for as long as possible, so every day felt like December 25th. “Let’s open the rest tomorrow,” he would say on Christmas morning, the shreddings of a mere two presents around us. You can imagine the protests. December 25th only came once a year, and December 26th would see no gift box left unturned, despite his best, all be it humorous, efforts.
He was skilled in the art of stretching out the minutes of a day, as if they were infinite, and could labor over a morning cup of coffee like one does a new hobby. If you needed to be somewhere at 11:30, you told him you were expected at 11:00. He eventually caught on, and clocks were reluctantly readjusted.
He had a keen sense of direction, and could rely on a map when intuition failed. But when maps were scarce and his internal compass pointed toward dead-ends and detours, he reveled in scenic routes. “It’s all touring,” was his mantra. The back seat was my hub, from which I could take in unplanned mileage along the way – vast fields, dense woods, small towns, narrow bridges, steep hills. Two-hour journeys became 3-hour escapades, and quick trips were merely an excuse for adventure.
I don’t recall him using this particular phrase, but upon hearing about it recently, it fit my mind’s image of him like a negative to a photograph. When I think about my own life, there are interruptions and there are detours, some scenic, others yielding hazard signs. Yet, aren’t these too all part of the tour?
It certainly is not always easy to see them as such. Sometimes, we simply want the route we set out on to be the familiar one – one that carries no risk of getting lost, no “construction ahead”. But adopting the view that our stops are simply part of a larger sequence, can make each one feel more like it belongs.
As a child, I didn’t know which stops were planned and which were accidents. And to my dad, it made no difference. There was always something to be gained. It was all touring.