You Need to Stop for a Mental Pitstop Every Once in a While

Amy Fowler

  
Summers were made for road trips. Windows down, hair blowing out, Spotify pumping. The car is loaded, everyone is excited, you’re halfway there and the check engine light comes on. Groaning and perhaps a few profanities fill the air as the music is lowered and the car is pulled off on the side of the road. Nobody wanted to stop. It’s an inconvenience, an interruption. An interference to your intentions.  But you stopped because you recognized a few things:
1) The vehicle is valuable and you need it. 
2) To continue driving could compromise the entire engine. 
3) It would endanger the lives of yourself and the passengers.

Executive decision made: Pitstop.
Everyone is in agreement.
 
It makes so much sense in the purely physical realms of life. Fires start, we put them out. If someone’s arm breaks, we cram in the backseat of a car and rush to the emergency room. Our stomach grumbles, we fill it. Our bodies were literally designed to respond to stimuli such as these. Humans are the most efficient at responding to external crisis and addressing the present need.
 
But, gosh, are we negligent people when it comes to our inner being.
 
Like thirst and hunger, our inner spirit begs for nourishment. For attention. For affirmation.
All day long, alarms and check engine lights go off in our souls, and more often than not, we carry on.
Unlike our vehicles which we recognize as valuable, we treat our souls as commonplace. We heed its warning as an annoyance that needs be silenced.
Our souls cry for stillness and rest- we rush from one event and obligation to the next.
Our hearts beg for love and tenderness- we numb with endless scrolling, swiping and snapping. We cuddle up with strangers and pretend they’re soulmates We search for satisfaction in anything that shimmers or offers a meager promise of affection.
Our souls long for meaning and purpose: we pour our everything into work and derive identity and value from the product, hoping that it will solidify and validate our very existence.
 
How do I know all this? Because I’m guilty of these very offenses.
 
I write to you today from a wraparound porch in the mountaintops of VA. The air feels different here. Birds chirp as my fingers lightly click these words to you. The air is still. I’m here because I pulled over this week. Maybe my car didn’t need a pit stop, but my soul sure did.
I pulled over because every dash light was on. I’m here because while my life is lovely, I needed an interruption. I needed to take an exit.
 
And as I sit here considering all these things in my own life, I wonder what alarms are going off in you even in this very moment.
How’s your heart, friend?
 
How are the tires? Are you deflating?
How’s the windshield? Can you even see the road ahead of you?
Are you swerving from exhaustion?
Are the passengers good company?
If so, are they endangered by your driving?
Are you?
 
The music’s sweet, the drive is good, and chances are, you’re probably heading to a really fun place.
But sometimes you have to just stop.
To take a minute and find your pulse.
To let that which is infinite be infinite and that which is finite be finite.
 
And should you choose to stop, even if for only a moment.
You may find that the interference wasn’t so much an interruption, but an intervention.
The roads will always wind on and on, but so will wrap around porches. Perhaps you should stop today. Even the roads understand we need refueling.