Americans have a yearning for the road. We memorialize it song and verse; "On the Road Again," "The Road Less Traveled," "Road to Perdition." Some of our greatest literary works, movies and songs are in someway representative of our desire to hit the road.
I guess it shouldn’t surprise us. We are descendants of someone who hit the road to come to America. A few who are reading this may be a person who left somewhere else to find a better life in America. Maybe it is ingrained into our DNA to keep moving.
Nothing ever stays the same. The world and our lives life keep evolving … changing … transforming. There is no constant other than the lack of consistency. As a child, I never understood why life was often referred to as a journey. As a teen, I had trouble grasping the phrase “traveling through life.” I knew I was alive, but I didn’t think I was travelling anywhere unless Dad tossed me the keys to the car. I now understand.
We are all on a journey.
According to life insurance stats, I’m now in the final third of my life. With the passing of time, I can now look back on the road I have traveled and understand the journey behind me. The choices I made and the directions I chose brought me to exactly where I am today. When I hear someone proclaim, “I have no idea how I got here.” I can only surmise they weren’t paying attention. To help an adolescent or even a teenager to understand is impossible, as they do not have enough road behind them to see a pattern of movement. Regardless, it is there. With every passing day, the road becomes more visible and apparent.
The passing of time creates a long winding road behind us. I believe that is why there is an increase in wisdom with age. There is energy, creativity and momentum with youth, but it is often misspent or misguided without the wisdom of passing time. I guess that’s why the word journey is so prevalent in people in the final third of their life. We’ve seen it. We’ve experienced it. We have perspective. We have the wisdom of learning from our mistakes and successes to share.
A very wise person has created a Facebook page titled “JudithOver60.” She writes about her journey from being raised in the shadow of the steel mills of northwest Indiana through her life as a big city hospital RN and now part-time educator, mentoring young nursing students. In her life in the final third, she shares her profound wisdom and insights on her journey down her road of life.
Last week, she penned on her JudithOver60 page about her love of the "Wizard of Oz." I, too, remember the first time I watched it on television and it became an annual must-see-event in our home. The sight of the flying monkeys still sends shivers down my spine. What I remember most about this classic movie is the phrase, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.” The instructions to Dorothy and her faithful companion, Toto, set her on a journey of discovery, representative of all our lives movement down our path.
I want to share one of JudithOver60’s observations here. “Sometimes we miss the final lesson ... the lesson being the journey itself.” She goes on to write, “The answers always lie within you. The scarecrow learns he can think. The lion learns he has courage. The tinman learns he can love. Dorothy learns she has the power to go home.”
As I read her words, I realize she is saying, what is gained from the journey is the realization of what we already have within us. It is the journey that unlocks our inner strengths and brings them to our surface.
We are all on our personal Yellow Brick Road. Parts of our journey are fun and beautiful, while others are trying and difficult. At some point in our journey, we all are forced to face a flock of flying monkeys. We all come to places in the road that seem impassible. The fatigue of our journey drags us down. Some feel they cannot go on, but there is still road ahead, and keep moving we must. Last week I wrote about the wisdom of a "Cast Away," but that message is universal and applicable here.
When you come to those moments where you feel you are at your end, you must keep going. Around the next corner may be a beautiful field of flowers set before your personal Emerald City.