I find myself walking, running and doing yoga in places I would never have imagined myself doing any of those things.
Today, weâ€™re getting steel in an area outside of Houston ravaged by the flooding of last year.Â To get out of the truck while he straps the load means Iâ€™m doing my thing in these same places.Â Everywhere we go are areas you would never go unless you were picking things up in a big truck, delivering big things orâ€¦ lost. They are the places that are dark and scary at night when you canâ€™t figure out where you are.
Life living in a truck with a truck driver is not for the faint of heartâ€¦honestly.Â Things you may have thought to be private happen within 12 inches or less of each other.Â We spend hours and hours without stopping.
Iâ€™ve got a â€œwashingâ€ station, bathroom buckets, bags, sawdust, cabinets of food, clothes, water jugs and wipes.Â We go today from 80 degrees, 89% humidity to 25 degrees and freezing rain tonight in another state so we need things for all weather conditions.Â We drive in rain, in snow, on ice, in wind, on narrow roads lined with construction pilons and a â€œsoftâ€ shoulder.Â For me, itâ€™s nerve racking and I could go cover my head up in the bunkâ€¦ but I donâ€™t.Â For him, its stressful, exhausting and scary.Â Things happen and people die.Â (thatâ€™s what he tells me)
We wait to be loaded.Â We wait and we wait.
Hot, dirty, cranky then springing back into good spiritsâ€¦it all happens in here together. We canâ€™t actually walk away or go for a walk to get away. Â Weâ€™re getting really good at it.
He hates driving in Houston traffic, or Houston at all actuallyâ€¦or Dallas trafficâ€¦both of which we will have to do when these guys finally finish putting steel on this trailer.
He gets out to help another driverâ€¦someone brand new, only 2 weeks on the jobâ€¦strap and chain his load in place.Â I canâ€™t get out of the truck yet, for safety reasons, so I watch, take pictures and write.
Thereâ€™s so much to watch and learn aboutâ€¦and by goshâ€¦there is plenty of time to do that sitting here in the cab of the big black truck.
My heart goes out to that new truck driver.Â This is a hard, lonely job to be new at.Â No one to help or to show you the ropes.
Everyone that works here is wearing cowboy boots with their pant legs tucked inside.
He calls them bootpants (one word)
We are loaded and heading for Oklahoma.
The truck driver:
One aspect of being a truck driver is that itâ€™s a very simple life.Â In the midst of allÂ the demands that come with the work, you are removed from the daily demands of being a villager.
Being out here is really simple. Thereâ€™s an appeal to this kind of freedom.Â Thereâ€™s a danger in writing this because I might sound like some antisocial hermit.Â Iâ€™ve thought of the driving and all the geographic change and movement from place to place day after day.Â I think of a national geographic magazine.Â Those wonderful pictures of far away places, the vistas, the pastoral scenes, the people of these places.Â Great appeal lies there, driving through what seems to be page after page of these images.Â And I can do it forever and itâ€™s exciting at itsâ€™ best and deadly without warning. Â I think the day I stop doing this, itâ€™ll be a sad day, Iâ€™ll miss it.Â I will miss it.Â Not owning a home, not having a sewer bill, a water bill, electric bill, not having to cut grass, not having to sweep the floorsâ€¦.again a subset of the theme, independence and freedom.
I met a woman truck driver one morning at a jobâ€¦she told me this was her last week on the road after 30 years.Â I asked her what she was going to do with all that spare time.Â She didnâ€™t say much, didnâ€™t seem too excited.Â I asked her what it would be like having that freedom, not having to work and her quick reply. Â â€œAint no such thing.â€Â Her words. Thereâ€™s no such thing as freedom.Â She wasnâ€™t a negative person, she didnâ€™t seem bitter or damaged Â in any way.Â I found this perspective very interesting.
No such thing as freedom.
I understand what she meant.
The gift lies in each moment. Present.Â Again, the idea of a being a truck driverâ€¦there are new moments as a constant.
Youâ€™re denying yourself the comforts of home, community and hearthâ€¦and with that denying, in motion and constant change, you receive more. Â Presence.
As a shopkeeper I would watch customers coming and goingâ€¦it seemed that they had all this motion and diversity in their experiences.Â It seemed appealing.Â I wasnâ€™t present in my own environment.Â I wasnâ€™t able to see.Â Thatâ€™s just common.Â We can only see so much.Â Our bubble.
Through the windshield I have grown.Â Through the apparent denying myself comfort, I have learned to be present.Â Filled with gratitude for each day.
Donâ€™t get me wrong.Â The words I have on this subject are simple reflections of fleeting moments of a new clarity. Â A fresh perspective.Â I spend many an hour a day looking through the old lenses, the familiar perspective of fear, self centeredness, insecurity.
Thereâ€™s so much there.
35 degrees out, driving through an ice storm.Â The roads feel good.Â A cloud of spray comes off the tires but ice gathers on the mirrors, the trees are heavy with ice.Â Then we drive another 8 or 9 hours today.
Itâ€™s time for lunch.