Rochester, Minnesota

Driving today, I passed a tandem tractor trailer branded with the logo of a company called “Estes.” Naturally, my four years of Spanish in high school kicked in, and I immediately thought to myself, “this and these have t’s” – the trick used for remember when to use este (this) or ese (that) in a sentence. And, because the road is long and boring, I found myself realizing something that felt at the time to be the best thought I’d ever had.

I thought to myself:

that and those have o’s.

I thought about the genius of my idea for about 10 miles, roughly 1% of my trip today. It felt like the perfect companion to “this and these,” and I likened it to that sacred phrase “leaves of three let it be, berries white take flight”. I thought about calling up my old Spanish teacher to ask her if she’d actually taught us that six years ago, and I was just now remembering it, or if this actually was an original idea.

Which brought me to another thought: how many epiphanies have I had that were just remembering something I knew all along? How many times have I shrugged off something someone told me once, only to realize it for myself years later? Would it have mattered if I’d listened then? Would knowing then what I know affect me profoundly, or did the universe plan every detail of our lives, right down to the thoughts in our head, and I was only now destined to think it? That seems like a lot of work for absolutely no cosmic pay off.

I listened to a lot of comedy stations on the drive today, to stay alert, and one comedian said: “I wonder how different my life would be if I was born one day earlier. Maybe it wouldn’t be different at all, except I’d have asked that question yesterday.”

If you’ve ever studied history, you know that for the most part, things tend to work out for people, no matter what time they lived in or where they lived. In the end, it all just kind of boils down to hard work and a lot of chance. Will my life be any better for knowing “that and those have o’s”? It’s hard to say, but today sure was.

Travel update:
It took me twelve hours to get here from Elyria, Ohio, which puts me at just about 24 hours from my starting point. It also puts me about halfway to Missoula.

A quick list of the states I’ve now driven through:

• New Hampshire (briefly)
• Vermont
• New York
• Pennsylvania (briefly)
• Ohio (Stop one)
• Indiana
• Illinois
• Wisconsin
• 1/3rd of Minnesota (Stop two)

A quick list of the states I will be driving through:
• the remaining 2/3rds of Minnesota
• South Dakota
• Wyoming (Stop three)
• Montana

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