Spontaneity is fun most of the time. And even when more than the unexpected happens it can still provide us with great life lessons, if we look for them.
My husband and I have been visiting his family in Muncie, IN this week. Every time we come here we think about going to Springfield, IL to visit the Lincoln museum, home and grave site. It’s only a few hours from Muncie.
This visit, we decided to throw caution to the wind and off we went. We got a hotel room and even left the dogs behind so it was like leaving the kids with a sitter. It was a real date night! YAY!
It took us about four hours to get there in the pouring rain. It was cold and damp. There was a lot of construction which slowed us down. It was not that fun a drive especially after we had driven 11 hours to get to Muncie a few days prior anyway. A lot of time in the car! My husband had a headache and I was, as usual, not feeling well at all. But we trudged our way there.
Once we arrived at the museum, we both relaxed a little and things become more interesting. I even had my picture taken with the Lincoln family. I am apparently a little under dressed for the occasion!
We really enjoyed the museum. It was well done. There was one exhibit that I found particularly moving. It was a restoration of what the state house in Springfield would have looked like when Lincoln was laying in state there. It’s hard to describe how it made me feel but I got teary eyed and walking through that exhibit I truly felt the impact of his life and his death on all of us…on our nation and what one man accomplished to keep us whole.
After the museum, we went to his home in Springfield. It was very engaging to be in the home of such greatness and see such ordinary living all at the same time. I could really feel Mr. Lincoln at his desk in his bedroom reading and writing letters.
After the museum and the family home, we went to get something to eat and eventually found our hotel. Neither our car’s GPS or the phone’s GPS could find it. We ended up taking quite a lengthy tour of Springfield until one of us finally relented and called the hotel for directions.
Oh wait…before we went to the hotel, we did make a quick pit stop to Wal-mart for some much needed snacks for the evening! Twizzlers, dark chocolate bars, trail mix. Yum! Then finally arriving at the hotel, dog free (yippie), cold, damp and wet, we settled in and with our tummies full of junk food we had ourselves a warm and good night’s sleep.
The next morning we went to Lincoln’s Tomb.
I had hoped for a somber moment with our 16th president. One quiet moment to thank him and appreciate him and give him my respect. Unfortunately, there were school children everywhere and it was not at all quiet nor was there an opportunity for a moment to give my personal thanks for his nearly unimaginable contribution to history and to our nation.
So we didn’t stay long and I was able to snap this picture by nudging my way through a throng of pimply teenagers all standing around staring at their cell phone screens instead of appreciating where they were and the magnitude of this man’s impact on all of us. What is it they say…”youth wasted on the young!”
Anyway, after this less than worthwhile experience, we decided to head home. We were not ten minutes away from the grave site with a four hour drive ahead of us when suddenly we heard a thundering noise under the car and my husband, who was driving, let out a string of concerned words. We pulled over and sure enough…a flat tire.
Expertly, my husband pulled out the spare, jacked up the car and changed the tire. But it wasn’t just the tire that had been damaged. The wheel also had a huge gash in it. So, while the spare would get us back to Muncie, we needed to get a new tire and a new wheel.
Thank goodness for smart phones. We spent the better part of the first hour of the ride back to Muncie calling tire places and junk yards and dealerships to find a wheel and a tire. Eventually we found a place that had a wheel that could be ordered for next day delivery and we also found a place that had the right tire.
So, our trip is being extended by a day or so to get all this taken care of.
But as I think about this experience, I realize that there are lessons from this flat tire and our visit to honor Lincoln. We could look at the flat tire like it was all a huge hassle and how unfair it was that this happened to us. Or we can look at it another way.
No one got hurt. We got all the parts we needed to fix the car. We can afford to fix the car. We get to visit with family for an extra day. It’s just a car. Getting the car fixed properly will allow us to travel home safely even if a day later than expected.
And after visiting Lincoln, you realize that a flat tire is nothing compared to what people endured during his presidency. Millions of people died, millions of families destroyed. People enslaved. A nation was divided.
We just had a flat tire and while it was annoying.. it is nothing. Truly nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Once again there is a lesson here in the importance of perspective. These lessons seem to be everywhere.
And Lincoln continues to teach us important life lessons.