Traveling #4

“The aim of a dervish was to become a ‘dead man walking’: one whose body stays alive on the earth yet whose soul is already in Heaven… towards the end of his journey, the dervish become the Way not the wayfarer, i.e. a place over which something is passing, not a traveler following his own free will.”

Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines

All of life is a journey but our final destination is not one that we have yet learned to embrace. In fact, although we may all like to change the destination, the most we can do is postpone the arrival. And because we try to avoid the end, we may fear the end too much and so miss the journey.

Perhaps in our journeying, we need to enjoy the scenery along the way a little more. Pull over for the lookout vistas. Take a break at the rest stops now and then and refresh our spirits. Check our maps against the road signs we pass. Kick the tires when we fill up with gas.

And just because our final destination has already been determined is no reason we can’t use our imagination to play some games in the car. Any trip, if not taken to be alone, should be shared with someone you love.

A trip that I will always remember with love was taken in 1988 over Easter weekend. My son Rob was paying his way through college working way too hard in the meat department at the local grocery store; Jason was a junior in high school working at McDonald’s. I looked at them one day and thought there’s still so much I want to do with them and I haven’t, and now it’s almost too late.

So, against their protests – for they had things to do and places to go and people to see – I piled them into the car the next day and we took off to see the Grand Canyon. We drove all day and made Flagstaff by night. We ate big steaks and drank beer and slept in a motel. We saw the Grand Canyon, felt the vibes at Sedona, drove through the little mining town of Jerome, and finally headed points southwest back home. I don’t remember much of what we saw so it’s a good thing we took some pictures. What I do remember is driving down the highway laughing and singing with my boys like we did when we were all little and driving to Viriginia.

You see, I knew it was the last trip we were ever going take together so I opened up all my skin, so to speak, and tried to soak everything in so that some day, like now, I could remember how it felt and what they looked like and the sound of their laughter. For those days are past and the people we were then are gone with them.

So, when you plan a trip, whether it’s a trip across the country or across a lifetime, always go with someone you love.

“Traveling is not just seeing the new; it is also leaving behind. Not just opening doors; also closing them behind you, never to return. But the place you have left forever is always there for you to see whenever you shut your eyes.”

Jan Myrdal, The Silk Road


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