Roads (December 14)

“On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing. But in those brevities just before dawn and a little after dark — times neither day nor night — the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in truth, they cast a mysterious shadow of blue, and it’s that time when the pull of the blue highway is strongest, when the open road is beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself” (William Lewis Trogdon).

IT HAS ALWAYS SEEMED TO ME THAT THERE IS SOMETHING INEXPRESSIBLY ROMANTIC ABOUT A ROAD. Roads, after all, go somewhere, and there aren’t many roads that don’t entice me, intrigue me, and attract me to their end. As a loner whose work requires a good deal of travel, I prefer to travel by the roads, preferably the back roads, rather than by air. I know the time of which Trogdon speaks, “when the pull of the blue highway is strongest, when the open road is beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.”

A road is not a bad metaphor for a human life, actually. The expression “road of life” may be a bit worn-out, but it is nonetheless true that our lives have many of the characteristics of a road. They have their destinations, their distances, and even their detours. It pays to pick our roads carefully — and travel them appreciatively.

One of the nicest gifts we can give to others is to be persons who, wherever we “go,” go gladly and with a spirit of adventure. There are already too many folks in the world who’re treading their path resentfully. Can we not be zestfully different: people who motivate (and amaze) our associates by actually enjoying the journey that we’re on?

Perhaps we don’t do this because secretly we wish our journey could be exchanged for someone else’s. But there is no good way to separate our “journeys” from our “selves.” The uniqueness of the roads that we’re on is what gives us the opportunity to make a peculiar and worthwhile contribution to this old world. Individually, we need to have the courage to follow our own roads with integrity and true intent. “We can’t reach old age by another man’s road” (Mark Twain).

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
(Robert Frost)

Gary Henry –

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