Pa·tience (noun) – The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or misfortune without loss of temper or getting angry.
Things will inevitably go wrong, in life, at work, on trips, but how you deal with them teaches you a lot about yourself. A week prior to our departure from St. Petersburg, Florida, my 2003 Jeep Liberty cleared an extensive check up, giving me confidence in its ability to make it around the United States.
Not long after setting off on our journey west, we encountered a slew of car problems. Day 1. No radio, no air conditioning and no power steering. Day 2 was spent in a Dodge Dealership in Austin, Texas. A new alternator pulley, alternator belt and $548 later, we were back in business and headed west with the biggest smiles on our faces. Smiling because ‘of course’ it wold happen to us. Why would things go smoothly?
Instead of getting frustrated, we planned our next move. Instead of heading home, we persevered. Instead of arguing with each other, we laughed.
The rest of Texas was not any kinder. Our shampoo bottles exploded in our bags, one of our coolers leaked and I got a $137 speeding ticket – all within the first three days. Those setbacks were frustrating but we didn’t allow them to define our adventure.
Once we made it out of Texas, things balanced out for us a bit. A majority of the speed bumps we encountered from here on out were primarily about where we would sleep and navigating unknown roads.
As the trip progressed and our mental stamina began to fade, I was worried about tensions rising. My travel partner and I were together non-stop and often stuck in the confines of the car for long periods of time. Without patience we could have easily taken a downwards spiral amidst the many setbacks we faced.
After being on the road for two weeks straight, we finally arrived in Oregon with the hopes of encountering fewer obstacles. Of course, that was not the case. We pulled up to the house we rented out for the month and to our surprise the keys the owner left did not work. The already sketchy situation of renting a house found on Craigslist took a turn for the worse. The owner gave us the go ahead to climb in through a window. Problem solved…kind of. We had now broken into a house we had not paid for and whose owner we had not met. Looking back, we did not put ourselves in the most promising situation but we made the best of it and things worked out.
Did things ever get easier you might be wondering? The answer is no. My camera stopped working in Washington, we were forced to skip a national park due to more car problems and spent the last four days of the journey without air conditioning or music.
Our patience and ability to make the best of our various predicaments allowed us to keep the cross country journey alive. It taught me a lot about who I am as a person and what I am capable of dealing with. With limited resources, we were able to complete our cross country journey and as a result are better equipped to deal with day-to-day obstacles.
“Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less.” -Mother Teresa