Sunday, September 8, 2013

Life's Journey

No one ever starts out on the road they are meant to travel upon last. Our journey takes many wrong turns along the way and we often find ourselves in a dead end. Sometimes the solid pavement turns to gravel or sand, and we lose our traction – we become stuck, unable to move forward. Other times, the road disappears completely from beneath our feet and we are forced to find another or to forge a new one. Obstacles often plant themselves directly in our path, and we must decide whether to climb over them, go around them, or simply turn around and go back.
Some roads offer a smooth trip – straight ahead, few turns, level ground. Others are more challenging – twisting and turning, rising and falling, rugged with steep drop-offs, and even difficult to see at times. Around each corner lies something new, something different, so we never know exactly what to expect. Fear of the unknown makes the safer roads more appealing. How many wonderful surprises do we miss because we are too afraid of the journey?

We meet many people upon these roads, each traveling to some destination on the horizon. At times, they journey with us, keeping us company and offering guidance. Others just come along for the ride. Some sideswipe us, others cut us off. Some race, others tailgate. There are always a few who move too slowly and hold us back. Some crash right into us and walk away without a scratch, leaving us scarred for life; or we do the crashing and continue on through a sea of guilt. On occasion, we meet courteous travelers who signal their intentions. Others, we never see coming. There are those who journey with us much too briefly, leaving us to travel on without them.

As we try to find our way through this world, crossing each other’s paths, our lives are forever touched in some way by each other. Some impressions are subtle or unremarkable, while others are overwhelming or haunting. Most go unnoticed until many years later during a fleeting reflection, while a few are so life-changing that we carry them with us far too long. We remember the sadness and joy, the heartache and love, the loneliness and companionship, the pain and bliss, the proud moments and each mortifying second – experiences etched in the stone of our hearts and minds, always there.

No matter where those roads take us, we all start from that one place we call home – a place that may not be a physical place at all, but instead an emotion. The feeling of home holds more power over us than any voyage on any open road upon which we might venture. It is the people who we hold dearest in our hearts – those still at our side and those we have lost, whether they are parents, children, friends, lovers, or even animal companions – who hold the power over us to call us home again when we’ve strayed too far. It is their joy in seeing us and accepting us for who we are that reminds us what’s really important. While not all traditional homes may be perfect, the ones we build with the people of our choosing become our homes. To be a person without such a place is someone who is truly lost.

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