I've driven the stretch of 101 from SLO to Atas every day for four years now. Not once, in all those trips, have I ever done more than glance at the hills in the twisty bits before the Grade. Usually I'm focused entirely on the road, negotiating the turns just perfectly while moving with traffic. The road fills my field of perception.
Tonight, however, the road was just one small piece against a backdrop of mountains. This area is breathtakingly beautiful at night, when there's a full moon out to offset the glare from one's headlights. Once you're out of SLO proper, there are no city lights, anywhere, until you get to Atascadero. I remember that used to unnerve me when I first moved here; now, I think it's beautiful.
This simple change in perception changed the nature of the whole experience. The physical maneuvers of the vehicle are exactly the same, and yet ... different. Minor bumps and potholes take on meaning, while the ups and downs and twists and turns lose importance. The road whispers to me through my tires, and I listen carefully to what it says.
And I realize, through this experience, that I'm focusing on the mechanics of driving, while utterly failing to grok the richness and depth of the road. Right now, I'm so focused on getting from point A to point B that I have no time to slow down and listen. Indeed, I'm forgetting how to listen. (Or perhaps, I never really knew in the first place.)
I'm becoming unhappy again because I'm focused on the minutiae -- I'm focused on getting the twists and turns exactly right, without appreciating the texture of what I'm doing.
I'm doing "what needs to be done". But I haven't even stopped to ask the question, let alone cherish the answer.
My metaphor-fu is rusty. I wish I could explain this better, but right now, I can't. Perhaps I should let it sit a bit longer.