In 1991, heartland rock artist (and yes, apparently that’s a genre of music) Tom Cochrane released a song entitled “Life Is a Highway” which peaked at number 18 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1992. This track was Cochrane’s most famous and most successful, which happens to kind of suck for him looking back in retrospect since Rascal Flatts (defined as “Country Rock” artists, guess the heartland thing wasn’t cutting it) covered this track and it out performed Cochrane’s version by placing 18 on US Country Songs Billboard, 7 on US Billboard Top 100, and 9 on US Billboard Pop 100, all in the year 2006.
I’ll admit it – I’m not a big country music fan. It’s never really been my thing, but when I was little my dad would play these twangy, country CD’s he’d buy at the now-defunct Boarders Bookstore in Thousand Oaks. We’d sing along together and annoy my mother, which was fun at the time, so perhaps I am a little partial to the genre.
I’m also partial to Pixar Disney movies, and if you’re familiar with Rascal Flatts and their rendition of “Life Is A Highway” you’ll immediately know where I’m going with this: The movie Cars. It was because of this movie that Rascal Flatts covered Cochrane’s most successful track and it’s because of this movie that I am familiar with the tune (I was only four in 1992 and didn’t know the joys of “heartland rock” quite yet).
The track, which is highly infectious and dangerously catchy, contains a chorus full of as much wisdom as simplicity:
“Life is a highway and I want to ride it all night long.”
Simple. Elementary. Basic. And Extremely Relevant.
My life? A highway. My journey through education? A highway. Chico State, Tehama Group Communications and everything which came before and are to come after are merely pit stops along a much longer road to happiness and success. A road that one can arguably say never ends but only gets straighter and more defined as the wheels keep turning.
My highway isn’t even half way completed yet but already it’s been a long road with many twists and turns. Starting when I was four years old at Children’s World Learning Center in Thousand Oaks, California and now ending 20 years later and 500 miles away in Chico, it’s crazy where your path in life or work begins and even crazier where that path can take you. If you had told me, even just a few years ago, that I would have ended up here three hours north of San Francisco, living my life in a relatively small, Northern California town, I wouldn’t have believed you.
I find it hard to believe still to this day. I had never ventured farther north then San Luis Obispo (which, now thinking back, is a lie since I would visit my grandmother in Sonora, California but that was up in the mountains far removed from civilation) on my own and didn’t step foot in San Francisco until I was coming up to visit the Chico State campus. My journey from “Southern California Boy” to “Northern California Man” has been incredible and I pat myself on the back nearly every day for braving the 500 mile trip to a city I’ve never seen, to a part of the state I’ve never been, to a school where I knew no one.
And Tehama Group a pit stop? What’s that supposed to mean?
Wikipedia defines the term “pit stop” as a place “where a racing vehicle stops…during a race for refuelling, new tires, repairs, mechanical adjustments, a driver change, or any combination of the above”. What is college but a place to make “mechanical adjustments” to a particular set of skills? For that matter, what is Tehama Group Communications but a place to do the same? It’s certainly a place to stop. Not in the sense that you quit learning, but in a sense that you STOP formal instruction and SWITCH GEARS (I’m loving this car metaphor thing I’ve got going on) to a new enviornment and a new way of learning: we’ll call it kinesthetic.
New tires, a place to stop for refueling, these can all be compared to resetting yourself from the things you’ve learned growing up in school and then adjusting yourself for success. Changing the preschool tires and putting on the elementary set. Changing the elementary set for some cool middle school ones. Replacing those with some hip high school ones and so on. We’re constantly changing ourselves and making adjustments with the hopes of getting further down our highway – often times with the goal to get as far as we possibly can before we have to pull over again.
Oh and the “changing drivers” thing? Think of this as changing who’s in charge. True that we are masters of our own destiny, but unless you’re your own CEO, chances are the direction your going is at least partially dictated by someone else (boss vs. professor vs. parents).
It’s truly unbelievable that my formal education is coming to an end. I use the term “formal education” because I never want to stop learning. For 20 years, learning is all I’ve done and it’s something I hope to continue. Learning about things is kind of like taking the scenic route to get somewhere. There may be a quicker way to get to where you want to end up, but it definitely won’t be as rewarding.