March 2022

A Brighter and Simpler Time teaser image

A Brighter and Simpler Time


I have been driving alone through the Texas backwoods for hours, dense trees on either side of the road and no other car in sight. I reach an intersection with only a lonely gas station at the corner, and the smell of barbecue wafts across the street and teases my nostrils. As I cross the intersection, the trees give way to farmland, the rolling hills stretching as far as the eye can see under a clear, blue sky. And it hits me. The beauty of this moment. The peaceful solitude, the Texas landscape, the Credence Clearwater Revival song that fills the empty space. I am here in this memory in the making, and everything else outside of this experience fades to nothingness.

Have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?

The moment reminds of a scene from a movie. No particular movie comes to mind, but I envision a lone woman driving a 4x4 pickup with the windows down and her hair blowing in the wind. She runs her hand through her dirty blonde tresses, and the camera pans from her serene face outwards to reveal the beautiful Texas countryside. The generic yet nostalgic background folk music crescendos over the hum of the car, and everything seems right in the world. At this moment, everyone in the movie theater wishes they were cruising down that farm road with the woman.

How often do we experience perfect, picturesque moments and fail to recognize them as such? How many natural beauties do we take for granted? I have taken this same road trip from College Station to Port Isabel, TX to visit my grandparents every spring break for the last five years. It is a trip that takes me across the state of Texas, through hill country and piney woods down to the sandy beaches; it is a trip that separates me from the worries and complexities of school and work, granting me a space to relax and recoup; and it is a trip that brings me to the house of my grandparents and my great-grandparents, a home that has been in my family since 1953. In one seven-hour car drive, I get to experience the beauty of nature, of rest, of family. Yet, I hardly have the awareness to recognize it as such.

As I drive along these roads, alone and unbothered, I also consider the simple beauties of everyday life, the beauties that have become commonplace and overshadowed by responsibilities and stress. I get so caught up in work and school and the worries of my day-to-day existence that I forget to appreciate the blessings around me. So, in this moment of peaceful solitude, I ponder. I consider how fortunate I am to have my husband, my dogs, my friends, my family, and my education, and I realize how much I will long for these things one day. I am currently living in the distant memory of a time when things were brighter and simpler. One day, I will look back and miss my squandered youth, my beloved pets, my lost friendships, and my since-passed grandparents. I will even miss the days when my biggest worry was next week’s exam.

Too often we get caught up in our busy lives and forget to appreciate the little things, the small details that we will reminisce upon in the decades to come. I won’t remember every homework assignment or petty argument or minor inconvenience, but I will remember these moments. And I will wish I had appreciated their beauty as I lived through them.

This moment. It reminds me of a movie scene, of a lone woman driving through breathtaking country with some generic folk music playing in the background. Everyone in the theater wishes they could be there sharing that moment with her. As I drive across this gorgeous landscape alone with my thoughts on my way to visit people I love, I realize I am that woman. Why would I sit in a theater and yearn for a different moment when the ones that make up my life are just as beautiful? I smile and lean into serenity as Creedence Clearwater Revival fills the empty space between me and the worries of my life.

May we all find the beauty in the simplicities of life.

About the Author

image of author Abigail Graves

Abigail Graves

Originally from small beer-town Shiner, TX, Abigail is currently a master’s student in Chemical Engineering with an emphasis in water resources. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M, yet chemistry is still her least favorite science. She works fulltime at an engineering consulting firm specializing in wastewater treatment plant design. She is married, has five dogs and loves anything nerdy, but will break some ankles on the basketball court if needed.

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