Wisdom of the White Van

By D.J. Vanas © 2009
News From Indian Country 7-09

With the mountains of the Front Range watching over me like guardian soldiers, I began my journey from Colorado Springs up to Rocky Mountain National Park, about three hours away, for a speaking engagement.

I put a book on CD in the stereo, the sun was shining, the weather was perfect and thankfully, the traffic was moving quickly and smoothly on the highway. All seemed right and good… and then it appeared.

Out of nowhere, a decrepit white van with mismatched hubcaps shoved its way into traffic and began a battle of epic proportions. It dodged, weaved, cut several people off and tailgated others, receiving blaring horns and a few one-finger salutes from fellow travelers.

I’d watch the van accelerate to find an opening and then suddenly its tail end would lift as the driver slammed on the brakes.

This impatient driver wasn’t just a pain to endure; he seemed to be an outright menace. The mysterious white van went through this agonizing routine for almost the entire hour it took to reach Denver, suffering his own obvious frustrations but also attempting to force everyone around him on the highway to suffer them as well. All this and here’s what the van accomplished – he was a mere three cars ahead of me after an hour! 

The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on me. As he chose to travel one way, I had chosen another path and so had some other travelers. I was listening to a great CD The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, counting my blessings, enjoying the beautiful day and feeling thankful that the traffic was moving well.


I actually savored my journey. I passed by a family in a minivan that was doing the same, enjoying their time together, engaging in conversation and wearing tender smiles. One of the little ones even waved at me from his car seat. As I made my way through Denver, I pulled over to get off the highway to take a pit stop.

The van was also pulling off the highway, accompanied by the bright flashing lights of the Colorado Highway Patrol.

Of course we all know we can’t control all that life throws our way.  But we do get to exercise our power nonetheless in those moments and choose how we’ll travel on the journey.  How are you traveling on your journey?     Are you chomping at the bit daily, aggressively pushing your way forward even at the expense of others? What did the white van, or any of us, gain by traveling that way except more pain? Or are you traveling well?

Are you savoring the experience, traveling in the right direction and doing it in a way you know in your heart is right?

The driver of the van and I showed up in the same place at the same time, but how we got there was radically different.  I’m sure the stress and strain of the way he traveled took a toll in more ways than he realized.  Be conscious of the way you travel, be considerate to others on the road, keep your foot on the gas but be willing to tap the brakes and slow a bit to let others in front of you.

Do this and when you get to where you’re heading, you’ll not only be happy about where you arrive – you’ll be happy about how you got there as well.

D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas (Odawa) is a nationally acclaimed motivational storyteller, success coach and the author of the celebrated book, The Tiny Warrior: A Path to Personal Discovery & Achievement and audio CD series He can be reached at (719) 282-7747 or at www.nativediscovery.com