One of the most life-changing experiences in my life – perhaps because it was extremely traumatic – happened to me when I first traveled to the beautiful state of California to take up my new job in 2000.
At that time I was working at St. In Louis, MO, and I had just accepted a job in Northern California. I had a handful of days before starting so I decided to drive across the country from Missouri to California at my picturesque light blue Pontiac Grand Am. I drove west on Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado on I-70. It was a pleasant enough ride. I still remember driving the vast expanse of the Kansas prairie – I've never traveled such a wide plain before in my life – and enjoying the sunset on the flattest and widest horizon I've ever seen. I also remember a quaint country hotel where I stayed overnight and the breathtaking snowy peaks as I drove through Colorado the day after passing Denver.
Pretty soon I reached Utah and took I-15 north to Salt Lake City, where I got onto I-80, which went west to California. As I left Salt Lake City, I was faced with a long journey through the barren wasteland – Utah and Nevada deserts – a difficult, relentless journey. I still remember checking my gas when I left Salt Lake City – the gas gauge was counted as half empty (or half empty, depending on how you look at it)! "No problem," I thought to myself. "That should be enough to guide me to the next city where I can fill myself." And so I began my fateful journey through the barren Bonneville salt flats in the dreaded desert west of Salt Lake City.
As I drove on, the desert creeped out in front of me – a wide, chipped wasteland. Not the slightest hint of civilization or culture a mile away. I continued on the highway, nervously glancing at the gas meter. The sun beat mercilessly. Occasionally I passed the truck on an otherwise empty road. No car to see. The gas gauge continued to fall and there was still nothing. I began to wonder if I would ever get to the next city. I began to foresee terrible scenarios – being in the middle of the desert without a car, food, water or gas. Even if I had a cell phone – and I didn't at the time – it would probably have been useless in the midst of salt flats!
Finally, I literally drove to the steams and prayed with all power to Jesus Christ, but still pushed through the desert hoping for a miracle! And the miracle came! As soon as I heard that my car's engine was screaming, I reached the gas station, which was driven by drivers. It seemed the only gas station in this desert mile away – a dilapidated company that charged petrol and other provisions – but it was a real godsend at the time! Oah! Nirvana! I whispered thanks to God as the petrol tank in my car greedily swallowed the petrol I pumped in there!
As I continued my journey through the Nevada deserts and as I approached California from a distance, it really seemed to be the promised land – a green blur appeared above the many hills of Northern California, signifying the pledge of salvation that I had left behind. And as I drove down a hilly road in California, approaching my destination, it really seemed to be "a land flowing with milk and honey!" It may sound a bit naïve, but I've had that experience ever since. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if I had driven the desert roads, the gas gauge was empty, and nothing but the vast expanses of barren desert in all directions! This experience makes me think of something for granted and makes me appreciate art, culture and civilization even more!
Kansas's enormous prairie horizon, Colorado's majestic mountainous horizon, and Utah's and Nevada's desert horizon are rooted in my memory. This experience inspires me to move forward in life even when it feels like I am driving through an empty gas tank through the desert – because if you postpone it, you may just reach somewhere in the middle of an abandoned gas station. it will save your life and allow you to continue your journey to all the promised land you hope for!
In this modern world, with all the comforts that civilization offers us, you could imagine that there was no room for exploration or adventure, but that thought could not be further from the truth! As long as there are people on earth, there are still new horizons to explore, because all experience is subjective and civilization is always changing!