For the past 3 years, I have traveled 500 miles each Monday to continue my vocal training in Los Angeles with two fabulous ladies who have changed my voice and my life. When I tell people that I drive for 7-8 hours for 2 hours of training, most people look at me with a blank stare. Yes, the drive is grueling and exhausting, but these lessons have been my saving grace in overcoming the many vocal and mental hurdles That have plagued me for years. These lessons keep my life and my voice moving forward.
That being said, the drive is long and arduous. I have gotten to know highway 101 like the back of my hand. My routine is set and I have certain places that I must visit each week. However, the drive is so lovely, that it almost makes up for its length. There are so many hidden natural gems surrounding the freeway which defy the onslaught of traffic and remind the driver that there is more than just pavement out there.
The ocean follows me for about half of my trip and, when it does, it’s always a challenge to keep my eyes on the road. The sea calls to me like an old friend and gives me words of encouragement as I make my way. It reminds me that there is an endless ocean out there– that there is more to this world than my own worries over creating the perfect vowel or legato line.
Much of my work throughout the week occurs in a tiny studio. Sometimes it’s a blessing to spend a day out in the world: witnessing the passing of a storm cloud, shadows painting the mountainside, and seagulls or hawks soaring through the sky…even if it is viewed while zooming down the freeway.
On my route, the halfway point is marked by a favorite tree of mine, somehow surviving on a freeway island in Santa Barbara. Its graceful lines and clean trunk are reminiscent of a bonsai, and yet it has grown to the size of a mighty oak. Somehow, struggling for existence on a tiny patch of land amidst the freeway fumes, this tree has a delicate strength and calming presence. So much so, that I just have to wave hello or blow it a kiss each time I pass by it. It has become a bit of an odd tradition, but I think the tree appreciates my greeting.
I used to dread Mondays due to the traffic, the way my shoulders end up attached to my ears by the end of the night, and the fact that it takes me several days to regroup and reenergize. However, the more I open my eyes and look around at the beautiful world I get to travel through and what a blessing it is to simply have these experiences, the faster the trip goes, the less my body is affected by the traveling, and the happier I am at the end of the day. You never know what you’re missing if you never let your eyes stray past the yellow lines of the roadside. For one minute today, walk outside, stand there in silence, look up at the sky, and contemplate how amazing life is.