Letter of Recommendation: Off-Roading
Off-roading has just recently given me a renewed outlook on life. I took a trip out to the West Mesa in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. This trip was not my choice but it was a much-needed escape from my life and I am now glad to have been dragged along for the ride.
In my life, I struggle with depression and anxiety. My depression lurks at random times and it doesn’t let me forget that it is there. The only way for me to get away from it is to literally run away. I found my happy place that is secluded and, for the sake of keeping it secluded, I will not disclose the location. I didn’t realize that when my boyfriend, Matthew, asked me if I wanted to see something beautiful he was taking me on some far-off trip; I had to ask, multiple times, if he planned on dropping me off, never to be seen again.
Anxiety tends to be the sibling to depression and, for whatever reason, stays long after the gray haze has subsided. Anxiety keeps you constantly thinking about Murphy’s law. It will give you every possible situation in which something could go wrong. This might be worrisome before you even leave the house. You would think, from this explanation, that off-roading would be more stressful than enjoyable and, while that may be the case for some, it was not the case for me.
On this little one hour side-bar to our day, I was forced to smile, not because of Matthew but, because of the way the vehicle moved underneath us when he weaved through the shrubbery and over the bumps and grooves of the soft sand. I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach that just made me want to grin from ear to ear. It was as if the tires moved independently. There was fear intertwined with excitement and, conveniently enough, I think that is how a lot of us spend our lives. Even though there is a fear of something bad happening, more times than not, it is short-lived and, once we are out there living it, it is much more exciting than fearful.
Off-roading, when someone else is driving the vehicle, is similar to how a lot of us live. We live our lives out of control and, while out in the vast expanse of dirt and repetitive hilltops, there is a moment where we can experience this overwhelming sensation of submission. We are then able to let go of the fear, anger, and stress of the everyday monotonous behavior that we have all, as adults, grown accustomed to. Experiences like these give us a way to focus solely on what is ahead of us and not what we have left behind. Looking in the mirror and seeing the dirt that the over-sized tires have kicked up into view is a freeing feeling. We can then focus on what it is that we have ahead of us and what is yet to make its way into our view, forgetting everything that is not directly related to what is going on in front of us.
When on this trip, it became clear that there was more to off-roading than I originally thought. I found, with this experience, that I learned a lot about myself in the process. I focus on a lot of things that are not necessarily conducive to the type of person that I would someday like to be. Secondly, I learned that I spend a lot of my life focusing on the past and not the life that I am working toward and building for myself. This simple experience, the aggressive movement of the car underneath me, the car tilting from one side to the other as the hard dirt makes patterns on the earth, has shown me what it is like to break away from the chains of my past failures. These new life journeys can show us what we have been missing and can make us more aware of what we are doing to our own psyche by looking back so often.
Relatively, it is nice to have a destination. Our trip climaxed at the peak of a hill amid all the other nonchalantly placed hills just like it. The clock ran past five o’clock just as the sun descended behind the horizon and, for a moment, instead of feeling fear, anger, regret for past choices, depression or anxiety, I felt content. I also found myself understanding what I thought so many people were crazy for thinking about New Mexico when I stated to Matthew, “It really is beautiful”.