Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lightning McQueen, Route 66 and Inspiration

Does the Interstate Highway System epitomize the speed of American life? In our daily lives, we travel in so many directions at record speeds, just like the Interstates. So, yes, it does. 

I've arrived at the notion that Lightning McQueen shows us the way to get off the freeway of life and back to our hearts and souls.

For the uninitiated, Lightning McQueen is the main "car-achter" from the Disney Cars movies. Cars, apart from being a great kids movie (Cars II was good, too), has had an impact on me. Yes, yes, a kids movie has caused me some introspection. I'm fine with that.

Winning the Cup (or Supassing the Joneses) 

We have our children that crave only our time and attention - well, food and toys, too, but given the choice, they'd choose us. I love my children. I love the full-speed running hugs when I come home from work, and the remarkably faster crying, running hugs when there's a boo-boo I need to make better.

Yet, I, for one, often stay glued to my social media accounts, some article or blog post I'm writing (like now), my work, the lawn, or the darn dog who had just made a mess on the deck.  I try to earn more, learn more, go more places, get more stuff, and simply keep up with all that needs to be kept up with, and, yes, one eye is on the Jones family.

Lightning McQueen was on his way cross-country to the biggest race of his life (he's a race car, in the Nascar sense). A win and his life would be filled with all the adulation, fame and fortune that comes with being the Piston Cup Champion. Unfortunately, his plans were altered a bit when he accidentally slipped out the back of his transport trailer along Route 66, unbeknownst to his friend Mack, the transport truck. Mack Drove on, Lightning was left behind. 

He ended up in a small town, Radiator Springs, in what appears to be America's Desert Southwest. The town, formerly a bustling, thriving stop along the Mother Road, is no longer even noted on a map (because of, as alluded to in the movie, the Interstate Highway System). After days of trying to escape - yes, he had some jail time and work release - he began to warm to the people, surroundings and pace of life in the little town that seemed locked in the 1950s.

He developed friendships, relationships, love, and a sense of belonging.

Who Needs Anything More than Family Time?

Lightning's inner journey revived a long held desire of mine, which began even before my kids came along, to simply hit the road westward from Kentucky and explore our vast American interior. With my own family now, such a trip seems imperative.

We don't need to go away for weeks, maybe a few days. We could head west and stop in Metropolis, Illinois to see the Superman Museum and the statue of Big John carrying grocery sacks (don't know the backstory, but it looks cool). We could visit the worlds largest ketchup bottle in Collinsville, IL, or the Titianic Museum in Branson, MO. We could picnic along the way, camp in a park. We could do all those things and tons more in a short time on the road, together.  

I don't hold any misconception that it would all be sunshine, smiles, and cotton candy. There would be the inevitable arguments over which movie to watch in the car, who's had the iPad longer, and other examples of sisterly love. There may even be instances of motherly and fatherly love. But, those are all soon forgotten. What will ever be remembered are all the "moments" we will share, different memories for each of us, and the time we spent on the road trip. 

Lightning McQueen reluctantly received some precious gifts. His transformation ignited inspiration in me. Inspiration to get back to where I belong. Inspiration to balance my life; put the electronics, envy and time wasters in their proper place, feel pity for the Joneses and pray for them, and give due time to the most precious gifts under the canopy of heaven. 

What are your thoughts? What things are inspirational to you as a dad/mom/grandfather/grandmother/etc? Have you already seen the benefit of conquering the things that take us away from family? Whatever your thoughts, leave a comment.

Lightning McQueen photo courtesy Iain Farrell.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Gina! Love you're blog.

  2. "often stay glued to my social media accounts," -- Your self awareness is unique. Do you see it as an equal tradeoff is the value add worth what might be lost?

    1. I don't know what may be lost. I just know that there's a time and place for work, and that place isn't when I'm with my children. It's a struggle, especially when you're working, trying to build and start a new blog, write words that mean something to people, grow a real following and make an impact.

      The kids know when they've got your undivided attention. I'm sure you know that's something you can immediately see in their expression.

      Thanks for the comment!