The song City of New Orleans written by Steve Goodman and made into a folk hit by Arlo Guthrie describes a train journey across America and all of the sights and sounds within. While New Orleans is the destination, the ballad only refers to the experience of arriving with well-crafted descriptions of the passengers and the scenery passing by. At one point, the lyrics reference “changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee”.
It’s been ages since I’ve traveled by train. I’ve become a convenience traveler. I work hard and often keep long hours and when I’m ready for a few days away, I want to get there – without hassle. Such was the case yesterday. I was up at 4:45 finalizing our packing and the details for the pet sitter. We headed to the airport and it was only then that I looked at our itinerary and realized that our flight was not direct. We had a dreaded hour and forty minute layover in Nashville! It’s not about Tennessee. I like it there and although we’re toting a few good books, I really just wanted to get to our destination.
Five hours later though, we gathered up our things, left the plane and began traipsing through the Nashville airport. It wasn’t terribly crowded and hosted all of the ordinary amenities like Pizza Hut, Quiznos, and the Hudson Bay bookstore. My kids were hungry and so we set out to see just how much of our vacation budget we could spend on airport food. As we were checking out menus, I could swear I was hearing live music. And why not? It’s Nashville afterall.
We took a table at Tootsies Orchid Lounge – an airport rendition of a popular local establishment. The guitarist in the corner, Tim Gore was belting out favorite tunes from the Eagles, Jim Croce, and Johnny Cash.
The menu offered decidedly Tennessean cuisine. Within a short period of time, any layover anxiety had dissolved. I learned that it’s not really my singing that bothers my kids – it’s my singing when they fear the possibility of seeing someone they know and yesterday, they didn’t even flinch. The boys supped on local favorites and put their pocket change in Tim’s tip jar. And for one hour and forty minutes, I forgot about the destination and really reveled in the journey.
Are there times, other than traveling, where we’re so focused on the end goal that we fail to enjoy the process, the learning and the journey along the way?