***Help Old School TODAY to continue our critical work promoting natural health, success, and freedom. Please DONATE NOW! Thank you!***
My family decided to take a road trip this week, through much of the state of Florida.
My son wanted to see it, I was curious, and my wife loves road trips–we were in. We even decided to take Frisco our dog on this one–he liked that!
COVID fears? Nah, this is Florida, where we LIVE–not wait to die! There will always be dangers, and in the America we live in, who knows how long we will be able to enjoy it without massive limitations put on our freedom to travel.
What we didn’t realize, is that there is always a journey within a journey.
The physical journey was nice enough. We were able to go through places like Tallahassee (state capitol), Naples, Miami, and Orlando. We covered a lot of ground, and by necessity were not able to linger in any one place too long. It was a bit like a Whitman (chocolate) sampler.
We were not able to get going until 10:45 am, due to a ridiculously long wait at the car rental place. But that all worked out, as I was waiting for a delivery, which happened to show up in the meantime–we came home and picked it up. There’s always a reason…
We covered massive ground anyway, getting as far as Ft. Myers (far South) by late that evening. Hotels were booked and expensive, but we finally found something decent, relatively reasonable, and quiet. Thank you, God–we were tired!
Now this is where things got interesting.
Because we got to bed late, we didn’t get our “full” sleep, and I felt plain cranky. I realized there was nothing I could do about what I was feeling, so I just went with the day as given to us.
Naples was nearby. It is a beautiful area–a retirement area for rich folks. You can see the money everywhere, and we found a nice beach park where retirees lounged at the shore, quietly (my wife remarked that the quietness stood out–but older folks don’t make noise like younger people do!).
My son struck up a conversation with a pleasant lady who was collecting sea shells. She told him how large the sea shells are on nearby Marco Island, and suggested we go–unfortunately, time did not allow but it sounds like a winner next time we’re in the area.
Unfortunately, we got stuck in the neighborhoods of Naples, and took a really long time to finally get out of there, which put us behind on our schedule.
From there, we went through the Everglades, and this is where things got interesting for me. I was tired, and asked my wife to drive–she’s a good driver, and will drive anywhere at the drop of a hat.
I got in the back seat, right next to Frisco our dog. I napped for a little while, and was hungry too, so I looked in the bags we had with snacks. Because most of the food was far from me, and because Frisco was in between the food and me, I opted for some sugar-free cookies that were nearby (I wanted to eat these anyway!).
These were the last of a box, and I had already eaten the rest of them (my appetite is legendary!). So I polished off the rest, and I could see my mind working on me. I was already sitting in the back seat, and my mind started telling me what a pig I was for polishing off the cookies. And it told me I was shirking my responsibility as a man having my wife drive for an extended period.
Bad water, mounting challenges
Meanwhile, my son and I had drank some water we were carrying, while at a stop in the Everglades, and it caused us periodic gripping pains in the abdomen. By the way, we did not see any gators, though we did take a walk, and a couple of young men who looked like locals told us there were two gators near the road about a mile up–next trip!
In addition to the gripping abdominal pain, my left leg started experiencing sciatic nerve pain, which grew more intense as we drove. We had planned to “switch drivers” once we got to a smaller more rural road (on the way to Lake Okeechobee–there’s a lot of Indian or “Native American” names in Florida).
The problem was, it seemed to take FOREVER to get to that road!
Once we finally got out of the Everglades, we headed to Miami, and before we knew it, were in bumper-to-bumper traffic. That lasted a LONG time as we moved through Little Havana and other areas.
One thing I got real clear about, is that I have no use for cities anymore. Because of the excessive traffic, and the fact that we were getting behind schedule, we did not stop at Miami Beach. Looking at the map, it seemed like a cool area, and Miami Beach is not just a beach, as I had thought–it’s a whole AREA–a peninsula surrounded by bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
We may never see Miami Beach, unless we come in by boat, because it’s just not worth it to have to fight so much traffic for a taste of what some would call “paradise.”
On top of all this, I reacted badly to the way my wife was driving. Again, she is not a bad driver–in fact, she’s a very good driver. But we have different styles, and in my state of mind and state of pain, the differences weared on me, and try as I could to keep my mouth shut, I couldn’t keep from expressing myself several times–that wasn’t popular at all with my wife or son!
Lake Okeechobee and a change in the air
Finally we made it out of the greater Miami area, and up the East side of Southern Florida toward Palm Beach and many other areas all crammed into a fairly small area.
Then we found the road to Lake Okeechobee, and that finally thinned out into a rural environment again–thank God!
As nice as the neighborhoods were in Naples–they were as bad in the neighborhood near the lake. But we arrived just before sunset, and everybody got a chance to move around and enjoy the lake. Lake Okeechobee is the largest lake in Florida, and we saw it stretch to the horizon.
I apologized to my wife for badgering her about her driving!
Frisco, our dog, enjoyed the sunset too 🙂
We had escaped the “concrete jungle,” and God had let us see that there’s always “sunshine after the storm.”
My sciatic nerve issue had abated, but I still had periodic gripping abdominal pains. My son’s pains had mostly dissipated by this time as you can see by his smile in his photo above 🙂 .
Now there was a long dark road in between us and the Orlando area, where we planned to stop for the night.
Orlando, God, Jesus Christ, “success”, and “failure”
We’d experienced cross winds while driving–on the entire trip. The drive from Lake Okeechobe to Orlando was no different. But when you’re traveling at night–on a two-lane highway with a high percentage of semi-trucks coming at you in the opposite direction–it adds layers of danger.
Passing big trucks in these conditions is a heightened experience too.
But we finally made it to Orlando, and were really fortunate to find an inexpensive hotel for a change! The room wasn’t bad at all, and because we stopped earlier on this second day, we’d have the opportunity to get more rest.
My son approached me before bed and apologized for getting mad at me for some of the things I’d said. I was impressed by his sincerity in wanting to keep his mind and soul clear of obstructions, and in caring enough to approach me.
I apologized as well, and said I just could not help the way I felt or the fact that I’d spoken out several times.
When I prayed (meditated) that night, I asked God to alleviate my abdominal pain, and He did it! I could feel it going away before my eyes!
I realized then that I have never really believed in the power of prayer to heal. I have been such an un-believer.
Sometime that night or early in the next morning, I began to realize that what my thoughts told me were “failure” in my actions was not failure at all–my “failures” had caused a certain unrealized searching of my soul–and that of my son’s too.
For as far back as I can remember, I have lived my life through the prism of “success and failure.” Even during my “Christian” walk of being involved with two influential ministries for decades of my life, I always somehow felt that my “performance” was crucial. That “speaking up” was essential to my salvation.
I have “spoken up” in so many inappropriate ways during my life–especially during the time that I was convinced I was “on my way” spiritually. This was my own fault of course, yet, it was also subtly and not so subtly encouraged.
These ministries–despite other positive aspects–did not talk much about the free gift of life available to all who truly believe in God’s son, Jesus Christ, and his redemptive mission on our behalf.
I know that the above sentence sounds like “Christian” talk, but I’m beyond worrying about what people may think of this kind of thing. In fact, it IS Christian talk and that’s just fine with me!
I’m realizing it’s okay if I get irritated, mad, or what have you, as God is showing me my imperfection. He knows I am not acting out on purpose, in fact I am totally clear that I did the best I could, and in spite of that, my weaknesses showed through. But He is there to teach me, to mould me, and to bring me into greater love and freedom.
He is doing the same for my family too.
We had a good rest in Orlando, and got up and looked at the map. Up until that point we had not set foot into the Atlantic Ocean, and we were pretty close to the coast, but we needed to get the rental car back by end of day, and had a lot of miles left to go, so we decided to forgo the Atlantic on this trip.
So that last day consisted of us driving in the direction of our home via the fastest route. I had a very good conversation with my son about some of the things I’m writing about here. I am truly blessed to have such a great wife and son!
I will never see a journey in the same way again. As my friend, Martin, said to me, the physical part of a journey is just a part–and not the important part of a journey. That every day is a journey, and that we are not in control–God is!
And God is working through us–so that our “failures” are not failures (they are tools of learning), and our “successes” are His successes. It is a beautiful way to live, and I am finally getting a taste of it.
Thank you, God, for guiding us on this journey. And thank you for the free gift of your son and his ultimate sacrifice for us.
Patrick Rooney is the Founder of OldSchoolUs.com. He communicates clearly and fearlessly during perilous times about natural health, success, and freedom. To reach Patrick, email him at [email protected].
To Support the critical work of Old School, go HERE.