The Seldom Seen Road

For the past year, I have been living in a very nice two-bedroom apartment in Powell, Ohio, which overlooks a road called Seldom Seen. It’s not a very long road, maybe two to three miles in length that connects the Scioto Riverside Drive to Liberty Road. I was curious as to why the road was named Seldom Seen because today it’s pretty busy and just about everyone in our community knows where to look for Seldom Seen. Should be renamed to Frequently Seen maybe.

So to discover the history and the reason why the road was named Seldom Seen, I went to the source of all true and factual knowledge, Facebook, and posted my inquiry to a group dedicated to all things Powell. As of this post from along the road, no one seems to know with certainty. But there is a lot of fond recollection of past times spent on Seldom Seen before it became Frequently Seen. Memories of bike rides down to the river or visiting the farms that were along the road. The good old days if you will.

I grew up in Coshocton County, Ohio. I too have fond memories of taking long bike rides in the country on dusty roads. Passing farms and ponds. Stopping to get a drink from a natural spring along County Road 24. Some Saturdays I would tell my mom where I was headed and approximately what time I’d be back and then start peddling out of town to spend twenty or thirty miles of my life enjoying the back roads. Maybe even some seldom seen. Yes, those were the good old days. At least they were for me.

The road. We bike it. We drive it. We walk it. We sometimes despise it. But we all are on one road or another during our life. Use of a car is optional but for expediency, it is a good idea. Many of the roads we go down over the years are not drivable. They’re rough and rocky. Full of potholes and wrong turns. Some even dead ends. Each road, even the road of life, can be an exciting adventure full of enjoyment. But very quickly that road can become an unexpected calamity. A detour from what we had planned. And sometimes our GPS doesn’t recognize the road we’re on or it takes us on a road the doesn’t even exist. I guess there’s just no way around it. The road, the road of life, is what it is and we just have to do the best we can to get to where we’re going.

This is the first post from along the road for the Doodle and I since we have moved out of our apartment overlooking Seldom Seen and into our motorhome. For the next two weeks, we are staying at a very nice campground in a little town just a few miles from Frequently Seldom Seen Road but yet far enough away to be a new experience for us. Something we haven’t seen before. The roads between where we were and where we are were very picturesque with farms and creeks dotted along the way. A very pleasant drive today. But I know that those same roads have had some pretty tragic accidents over the years.

Maybe it’s good luck or bad timing that brings us what we encounter on the road. Maybe it’s not our fault. Maybe sometimes it is. Either way, it is what it is and each of us has to decide how we respond to what we encounter. Do we push right through it? Do we try to steer around it? Do we double back and take another road? Or do we sit and wait for the road before us to open up again? I’ve made all these choices in my life. Some were the right decision at the time and others were not so much.

I’m thinking the point is to just keep going down any road you can take which will get you closer to where you want to be. Adjust your course as needed but keep going. Take that seldom seen road maybe just to see it. Don’t sweat the detour as it may just take you to a place you never knew you needed to see. Make a call to a loved one while you wait for the road to open up again. Better yet get off at the next exit and go see them. Your destination will still be there. It’s okay to take your time and see what or who is along the road and even notice who is traveling next to you. Life is one road we’re all on together. So why not share it and the experiences with one another. Having travel buddies does tend to make the road seem less long you know.

What was it James Taylor sang it the song Secret of Life about the road?

“Isn’t it a lovely ride,
See me sliding down and gliding down,
Try not to try too hard,
It’s just a lovely ride”

Hope you take that seldom seen road. You just might see me and the Doodle on it too.

See you down the road….

Yesterday

Definition of the adverb Yesterday according to Webster:
1) on the day past; on the day preceding today
2) at a time not long past; only a short time ago

Definition of the noun Yesterday according to Webster:
1) the day last past; the day next before the present
2) recent time; time not long past
3) past time – usually used in plural

Definition of the word Yesterday according to Jon:
1) a movie
2) a song
3) what we will call today tomorrow

No, I haven’t recently received a degree in English nor Time Travel. Although time travel would be pretty cool. Imagine going back to yesterday and reliving that day over again while remembering everything that already occurred on that day. Sounds like a good plot for a movie. I’ll contact Bill Murray tomorrow on that.

A Movie:

What has made me nostalgic tonight for yesterday was triggered by seeing the movie Yesterday this evening. The basic plot is a struggling musician is hit by a bus at the exact moment the whole world suffers a mysterious power outage. When the lights come back on our musician finds himself in the hospital and in a world where a number of things never happened yesterday nor ever. Most significant of which was the music of the Beatles. I know, you’re thinking what a terrifying world that would be. Talk about your Hard Day’s Night!

I won’t give away much more of the movie than to say it’s a love story. With some really great music. And a message of being true to yourself no matter what situations you find yourself in. And as my wife Barb used to say, ‘You know, there’s a lesson in that.’ It’s a good movie and I encourage you to see it. But please skip the butter substance on the popcorn. I did not and I’m out of Tums.

The Song:

It’s pretty obvious the title of the movie comes from the Beatle’s song Yesterday. In my life (that’s another really good song), Yesterday has always been a meaningful tune. One of my favorites. I’ve envisioned myself playing the song on the piano and singing it just the way Lennon and McCartney wrote it. Sad undertone about lost love. I’ve loved the song since I was a teenager for its simple elegance but when Barb finished her journey with cancer in 2017, the song took on very real meaning for me.

Suddenly
I’m not half the man I used to be
There’s a shadow hanging over me
Oh yesterday came suddenly

If you’ve lost someone that was your other half, someone that made you whole, then I’m guessing the song gets to you like it gets to me. It brings feelings of loss and sadness just as fresh as on the day that yesterday changed my future. It brings back memories of walking beside her through her treatments and through her decline. It brings to today the emptiness I hoped was just in the past. “Why she had to go, I don’t know. She wouldn’t say.’

But, and thank God there is a but, when I hear the song it also brings back to me the memories before her cancer. Our meeting at Mickey’s the first time. Our wedding. Our kids being born. All wonderful moments in a life well lived through both easy and challenging times. That’s what life is. A combination of good days and bad days. Of living the usual and surviving the unusual. Of not letting the sad moments of yesterday prevent the possible happiness of tomorrow. And that brings me to my third definition of yesterday.

What We Will Call Today Tomorrow

Have you ever thought about today what you will think about this day tomorrow? What I should have done more of, have done differently, or have not done at all. My mom once told me to really think about what I’m about to do and the possible consequences before I do it. It’s good advice and after surviving not listening to her advice for quite a few years, I started to implement her logic and I’m sure it has saved me from some embarrassing and regretful situations. Thank you, mom!

We can and should remember our experiences of yesterday as they are part of us and have shaped us into who we are today. But they don’t have to get in the way of who we can be tomorrow. We take yesterday with us through today and into tomorrow as we continue our journey in life. I’m comforted to think that even though my wife is not physically with me now, she is with me in my memories of yesterday and encouraging me to make new memories while living today and tomorrow.

The road is long and winding (another great song) and as long as I’m able to travel it, I’m going to do so with the strength I’ve gathered from yesterday and with a hope for tomorrow. So that when today is tomorrow’s yesterday, I can smile and be happy with where I’ve been and how I’ve done. Oh, I believe in yesterday. And today. And tomorrow.

So What About Tomorrow:

Tomorrow, or actually this coming Sunday, I have a few changes happening. The Doodle and I are moving out of our apartment and will begin full-time RV living on the road in our Class A motorhome. I’m naming the motorhome Terra because she is a Fleetwood Terra model. I have been encouraged to call her Terry by one of my nieces as my middle name is Terrence and Terry was my nickname as a kid. She thinks that would be pretty funny and fitting but I’m going to stick with Terra. After all, I’d much rather say I live with a goddess named Terra (check your Roman mythology folks). Wouldn’t you?!

Going to full-time RV living has been on my mind for a number of years and life’s road has led me to the opportunity to give it a shot. Before her cancer hit, I had talked Barb into RV living when we both retired. I know she will get many laughs watching me from above as I learn from my mistakes. I’m assuming you’ve seen Robin Williams in the movie RV. Enough said.

It will be interesting and I’m both excited and terrified but it really feels like something I’m meant to do.  As we travel the U.S., I’ll be writing about people I meet along the road and their life experiences as well as my own. And Izzy the Doodle will have her own byline to contribute from time to time her thoughts on living with me on the road. We have a bet on who’s posts will get the most likes. I just need a little help from my friends (yes another really good song). Don’t let me down, folks.

So until next time, see you down the road….

Literally!

The Struggle Is Real

This mantra has become commonplace over the past few years, especially in my kids’ generation. My thirty-something daughter recently text me about something and at my age I’ve forgotten what it was exactly, but my reply to her was simply ‘the struggle is real’. She replied back that I had never sounded more millennial.

Me millennial?
Made me LOL! #word

Struggles have been a part of the human condition for as long as the Earth has been spinning. The world was doing just fine right up to the time Adam and Eve ate that apple. Just think what our lives would be like today if they had never indulged in that forbidden fruit. We’d all be living in a world of beautiful gardens. Living in peace. And harmony. And naked. Sorry to plant that seed in your imagination but hey we’d be used to it. Right?

If you’re like me, struggles come in groups or seasons in your life. Seems we’re on a journey through gentle valleys of peace and then all of a sudden we’re climbing up towering mountains of struggles. Wouldn’t it be nice to always live in a place halfway between the valleys and mountains? Still peaceful enough to enjoy the higher view?

A number of times I have lived in that place. Things were going pretty well. No real hardships or burdens. My job was going well. Our family needs were being met. The kids were growing. Our marriage was exciting. We were just enjoying life and coasting along. I’m thankful for those times and the loved ones I shared them with.

But then things would start to change. Finances became an issue. A job changed was needed. Kids struggled in school. Pressure was put on our marriage. Life’s struggles seemed to first trickle in then soon enough a full fledge flood was roaring into our lives. The struggle became very real.

Those times of struggle can be tough and overwhelming. Many times we feel there is no way out of the mess we’re in. How in the world will we ever overcome this and get back to better times? Get back to the peace in the valley again. Those struggles are very real when we’re living in the midst of them.

I’ve determined from my life experiences that the key to handling struggles in life goes back again to the beginning. Before that darn apple. Back to when the world had no struggles. Back to the garden. Back to living in peace with the world. And its Creator.

If you are a follower of the Christ like I am, you probably long for the garden and living in peace with the world and God. It’s hard, I would suggest the hardest thing we will ever try to do. Knowing and truly living the peace of Christ.

I would argue no human since Christ walked the earth has been able to fully live in peace. Many have come close but I think all have struggled and fallen short. But that should not hinder us from continuing our struggle to live with Him. For Him.

Our calling is perhaps not to overcome our struggles but to allow God to help us through them. To walk so closely with Him that we can lean on Him when we need to and allow Him to carry us when our struggle is too much. I’m not sure if my thinking is theologically sound but this is what I’ve come to understand.

Did you ever think about how human kind had our first shot at getting it right in a garden (Eden) and then how God himself went to another garden (Gethsemane) to take upon Himself all of our burdens, all of our struggles, all of our sin, to get it right for us. Guess that’s why I really love spending times in gardens. I’m drawn to them. I’m drawn to Him.

If you find yourself in a real struggle right now, try going to a garden, either in your community or in your mind, and talk to your Creator. He knows your struggle is real. He’s dealt with it before. And He will get you through.

Somewhere on a mountain side, just about half way up from the valley below, is that place, your place of peace. Where your struggles aren’t so great and you can sit back and enjoy the view knowing that peace, His peace, is also real. The Real Deal.

Now that’s the true #word.

See you down the road my friends….

Please Stand By

When I was a kid back in the 60s, frequently the message “Please Stand By….” would appear on our television. Usually right in the middle of my favorite shows like Jonny Quest, Gunsmoke, or Mission Impossible. Mom didn’t know about Mission Impossible so I guess you could say my secret agent skills were pretty good.

There seemed to always be something going on in the world that would be important enough to pre-empt my enjoyment of watching Jonny and Hadji help Dr. Quest and Race defeat some evil villain. I mean was it really that big of a deal, the whole Cuban Missles thing or all those updates on Apollo 11? I know those were significant historical events but watching Marshall Dillon and Festus save Miss Kitty was pretty important to me. Ok, maybe it was just watching Miss Kitty that was important.

If you’re 50 or older, you probably have your own black and white memories of the networks cutting in to let you know something was going on in the world. Maybe not in your world but in the larger world around you. So we would all stand by and watch the special report and just hope they would cut back to our show before it ended. That’s right kids, back in the day there was no pausing of your show. It kept right on playing. Bummer huh.

For the past few years, my life has seemed like a series of those “Please Stand By” moments. Have you had that experience as well? Your life is moving along just fine and pretty entertaining until out of the blue you’re pre-empted. Something that’s not part of your regularly scheduled programming pops up and you have to stop and focus on the unexpected or unwanted. You have no idea how long this unforeseen interruption is going to last nor do you know what you may find once it’s over and your show, your life gets back to normal. By the way, is there really anything that’s normal? A chat for another time perhaps.

Most of you know I started writing posts on Facebook and then this blog, to help me cope with my wife’s cancer journey. Cancer is about the biggest unplanned event any of us can ever have occur in our lives. It interrupts everything. It takes over and we have no choice but to go with it. It becomes the only thing on every channel of our life. And sadly for many, it ends the life we once knew and we now find ourselves cast in a show we don’t want to watch and a role we have no idea how to play.

But the show must go on, right?

It’s been 27 months now since my wife finished her season with cancer. I like to think, no, I know that she is now enjoying and is part of THE most spectacular, beautiful, and uninterruptable season humankind could ever hope to experience.  No pre-empting. Nothing cutting in. Just one continuous unending live performance of the best show on earth or above. I’m looking forward to that myself. I hope you are too.

My show, my life, honestly has been pretty good for the past year or so. The interruption of despair has ended. Sometimes grief breaks in and throws me off a little but that’s becoming less frequent and doesn’t last long. I look at those times now as my “Please Stand By” moments where my show pauses, I reflect and process the grief, and then get back to my regular programming. Although that regular programming is different than the life I had before, I find myself starting to enjoy it. To really appreciate it.

There’s a new plot taking shape for me. I’m still figuring out my role and I’m learning as I go how to make this season a good one. One of the best perhaps. There will be twists and turns I’m sure but I now know that when interruptions come, they are really just part of the larger production that I’m a part of. I believe that the Director will guide me to do my best and that the Producer believes in me no matter how many lines I forget or mistakes I make.

So just as Mr. Phelps always found a way to overcome the challenges, I too will get through my Stand By moments and keep that fuse burning until my mission is complete.

And the Emmy goes to…

See you down the road, my friends….

At The Surface

There really is something about being by water that is calming for me. Be that an ocean, river, or lake they all seem to bring me to a place of calmness and peace. Healing waters or perhaps just a restoration of balance. I really love being by the water and it’s kind of ironic. You see I can’t swim.

I guess I’m okay as long as I’m by the water and not in it. Although donning a life vest and floating along I’m very okay with. Gotta have that one life saving device that keeps me from going under and drowning. I prefer the orange colored life preserver myself as it seems to compliment my complexion. Pearly white.

This past Sunday while listening to our pastor give his message on parenting, my mind began to wander. I believe my wandering thoughts were triggered by something the pastor said about living in the moment with your children. So of course my thoughts immediately jumped to spending some time away from my beautiful loving kids. Guess a Freudian moment for me. See pastor Mark, you never know how your message will motivate us. 😄

Being so inspired, I went home after church, packed up clothes, supplies, and Izzy the Doodle and hit the road. Once I was driving, I headed East and decided to go to the Chesapeake Bay Area for five days. Not my first spontaneous road trip but the first I hadn’t at least researched a little before leaving. So the first time my bladder and the Doodle’s needed a rest stop, I took time to google a place to stay and booked an AirBnb on Gwynn Island in Virginia before continuing East.

Why Chesapeake Bay you might ask? Simply because I had never been there before and it was water. Plus the weather looked a lot better for the week than it did in Central Ohio. It’s now Wednesday and I’m very happy with my choice. Temps in the 70s, sunshine, cool breezes, and the peaceful sounds of water lapping on the rocks and birds singing in the trees. And very beautiful sunsets!

This trip has nothing to do about seeing the sights or finding entertainment. This trip is about slowing down and relaxing. About re-centering myself to what my life and living really should be about. A getaway. A retreat. A trip to focus on the water and allow it to restore my body and spirit. And a time to drink in more of the water of life.

As I enjoy this afternoon I’m watching the water in the bay. On the surface, it’s pretty calm and that brings me peace. Some moments the wind increases and the bay waters begin to wave up from the blowing. The water seems to speed up on its journey. And that makes me think of my life and how outside things or events can influence the flow of my living.

We all experience the hectic life. Where we are going with the current trying to keep ourselves a float. Sometimes it’s easy and we float along enjoying the journey. But other times things move too quickly, the waters get rough, and our sense of peace becomes panic as we just try to keep our head above water. And sometimes it’s so rough we truly feel like the waves are overwhelming us and we’re running out of breath. My life has been like all of these over the past four years.

But today and for the past few months, my journey on the water has been fairly peaceful. Watching the waters of the bay I’m reminded to look just not on the surface but also below. You see while the wind may be pushing up ever rougher waves on the surface, below the surface it’s calmer. And the deeper we go the more calm the water becomes. It’s in that deeper water we can be at peace. We just have to figure out how to breathe down there until we can come back to the surface.

I’m beginning to discover that when things get rough in life, I shouldn’t hold my breath until it passes. I’m learning that when life’s waves start to overwhelm me, that’s the time I need to dive below the surface to the place where I can breathe in peace. Where the water is calmer as I get closer to its source. I need to trust that the waves will not keep me down. That because I know the source of the water of life, I’m going to resurface and will be able to sustain the waves when they come again.

We all have access to that source. It’s up to each of us to not panic because of the waves but to dive deep under the waves and seek the source of peace. To get close and breathe it in.

What is the source? For me, it’s my faith. My faith in a God that is above and greater than any waves in my life. Knowing that as I get closer to Him, through prayer and reading His book, He gives me the water and breath I need to survive. And not just survive but thrive once again on the surface of the waters of living.

As I spend my last two days at the bay, I’m thankful for the water. For the way it ebbs and flows. Even when the waves get rough I’m thankful because I know they will eventually calm. It’s up to me to find the peace that sustains and thankfully I’m finding it more and more.

And so can you. Dive deep my friends.

See you down the road….

Every New Beginning…

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while now, you may have picked up on the fact that music has played a major role in defining who I am. Music has brought me to my faith, lifted me up when I’ve been down, and moved me to tears more times than I can count. Both happy and sad tears.

Since my childhood, listening to Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other early rockers on my record player, through my teenager 8-track tape years listening and cruising to Boston, Foreigner, Foghat, and the J Geils Band, through the many genres and decades leading up to today, music has always brought meaning and emotion into my life. It’s sorta in my soul I think.

Bob Seger was one of my favorite singers in the 70s and 80s. I bet you can hear one of his songs in your head right now. Old Time Rock and Roll, Night Moves, Still the Same, Against the Wind. The rhythms and lyrics of many of these songs have stuck with me over the years and I find myself going back to them at different times to help me get through things going on in my life. I wonder which artists and songs have stayed with you over the years. Which have carried you through?

One Seger song that I’ve always loved and yet haunts me is Turn the Page. If you’re familiar with it, you know it’s about a singer on the road playing in different cities night after night. It’s about the grind and toll it is taking on him and how he wishes the trip was through. It’s about encounters with people in places he doesn’t know or even want to be with. It’s about the empty feeling he has in his soul.

I do like to sing but I’ve never been on tour so I can’t personally relate to what Bob Seger was specifically singing about in Turn the Page. But I can understand and relate to the empty feeling caused by what he was experiencing. There have been many times in my almost 60 years, that life events have made me feel exhausted. Burned out. Wanting to just give up. And a few times I have. I just couldn’t turn the page in my life to see what was next and frankly didn’t really care. I had had enough. Have you been there?

In 1998, the song Closing Time by Semisonic came out. At first, I didn’t really like the song much. I mean come on, it was about a guy at a bar hoping a certain someone would take him home after the bar closed. Maybe it brought back memories of some closing times at Mickey’s in my home town back in the 80s. Might have hit a little too close to home for me but that’s another story for another time. Maybe over a beer. You can buy.

But in the song Closing Time, there is one line that over the past 20 years seems to always come back to my mind. And during the last two years, it has come to mind many times when I’ve been really struggling with turning the page to the next chapter in my life. And I have found encouragement in the words.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Pretty simple right but oh so hard to think of when you’re in crisis, or grieving, or just worn out. If we allowed every page in our lives to just go on and on, nothing would ever change. We’d be stuck on the road night after night, perhaps playing star over and over again just like Seger.

Thankfully, I’ve come to understand a new beginning is only possible if we move on or close out the current page we’re living in and release the empty and scared feelings to allow our lives to begin again. Ain’t easy to do but I’ve found I can.

Which page are you on right now? Are you at the end of a chapter in your life and finding it really difficult to turn the page to something new? I want to encourage you to keep going, close out the page your on now, and turn to that new beginning that’s waiting for you. You can do it. Put on an old song that lifts you up and move on. It’s closing time. The rest is still unwritten.

Oh wait, that’s another song. Perhaps for another time.

See you down the road….

The Rocks and Stones

When Jesus Christ Superstar came out around 1970, I was just 10 years old. Through my teenage years this musical perspective of the days leading up to the Christ’s death on the cross, the songs from the musical, especially the lyrics, led me to want to learn more about the story.

I’ve always loved rock music and the JC Superstar production is one thing, possibly the main thing, that led me to read the Bible, talk to God, and 15 years later at age 25 accept Jesus as savior and begin to follow Him.

I’m still following and trying each day to live my life to the fullest. Not always easy and many days I fail in following Him. But because of the grace God has given me and the sacrifice the Christ made for me, I go on.

There’s really nothing in this world that can change that. Many things have tried but no pain, no sadness, no success or failure, not even death can stop the shouting in my soul of my thankfulness to God.

The song Hosanna from the musical has the following lyrics, which I believe for all of us that are followers of the Christ, really convey the joy we feel.

Why waste your breath moaning at the crowd?

Nothing can be done to stop the shouting.

If every tongue were stilled

The noise would still continue.

The rocks and stone themselves would start to sing

As we walk through this week leading to Easter Sunday, it is my hope and prayer that each of you are intrigued by some aspect of the story and the mystery of the Christ.

And that you explore what Easter is really about.

And who this Christ really is.

Happy Easter Friends.

See you down the road….