14 November 2014


Giant Coffee on 1st Street and East McDowell Road is a fabulous place to sit and watch the city go by at a slugs pace. Delicious coffee fragrances the air while hip baristas turn up the Passion Pit playlist. LED man on the side of the Phoenix art museum perpetually strolls faster than the dented Mitsubishi Lancer at rush hour.

Nate was raised on driving from A to B in Phoenix, even when you could see B from A. This precedent escalated , leading Nate to spend 25,000 miles and approximately $3500 on solo travel his last year in Tucson. At an estimated 35 miles per hour, this equals over 700 hours a year.  If one spends 16 hours awake per day, this equals over 40 days of continuous driving. 1/9 or 11% of Nate’s year was spent in the car, alone. Scary, isn’t it?

It is easy to write off a twenty minute drive here, a 40 minute drive there. Nate did. It added up.  This caused him to consider how valuable alone time was to his mission. Was it above spending time with God? Family? Friends? Having fun? Living out his purpose? How about overall health and well being? 30 pounds and countless sleep deprived, acid-reflux troubled nights later, the pile of Mountain Dew bottles overflowing from the backseat floor indicated there may be a bigger problem.

Watching life in Phoenix from Giant Coffee forewarns repeated history if intentional steps aren't taken. Therefore, the framework for Nate’s adventures in Phoenix is going to be very specific. Reconsidering what is an acceptable distances for recurring activities may cause him to say no to some “good” opportunities. What opportunities will emerge, however, if more time is spent connected with people, locally? Easily repeatable interactions are likely to grow deeper without the secret bitter resentment of exhaustive travel and effort.

How much healthier will Nate become if he can walk or bike to places in the neighborhood? What beauty will he observe at pedestrian pace? How much more generously will he be able to give with the money he isn’t spending on gas? How much more time will he have to write, engage, and rest? How much richer will his fellowship be when there is actual time to dedicate to it?  What spontaneous relationships will he build and what lives will he impact traveling with others on the light rail? Time is finite, and that is becoming more evident as years tick by.

It is going to be counter-cultural to live out this vision in conjunction with the existing infrastructure. Is it inconvenient? Likely. Is it more work? Yes. Will it pay off? Exponentially.

The challenge: use one tank of gasoline per month. Excessive travel to require an alternative solution,  polite declination, or global alteration.

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