The Road Most Traveled

Robert Frost wrote ‘The Road Not Taken’ many years ago but its poetic message holds meaning across all time. It’s one of the very few poems I remember from my high school literature classes and I think I’m beginning to understand why it has stayed in my mind for these some 40 years.

A traveler is faced with two paths. A choice is to be made between two options. One path looks to be well traveled while the other appears to be hardly a path at all. The first has well worn tracks from those that have walked it before. The second is grass covered with barely a trace of steps being taken down it. Which to choose? Where does each go?

Coming out of high school, I had decided to go to The Ohio State University to obtain a degree in secondary education. I wanted to be a high school history teacher. It seemed like a good choice for someone just starting out in adult life. I had been a student of a couple really excellent history teachers and they had inspired me to take that path.

But after just one quarter at Ohio State, I determined that four years of undergraduate and a couple more years of graduate studies were simply to long. I wanted to get going with a career and living life much sooner. So I switched to Computer Science at the two year tech college and received my associates degree.

I spent over thirty seven years in the I.T. field, leveraging that two year degree, working my way across many positions and levels of responsibility. Some of the work was tough while some was pretty easy but all of the programs, systems, and teams I worked on have helped make me who I am today. And have also brought me to where I am today.

I do wonder some days how being a history teacher would have gone for me. Would I have been successful reaching young minds and making dusty events from years ago relevant in their lives? I like to think I would have been. My teachers did that for me.

And I also had the example of Mr. Gower from the 1984 classic movie Teachers. If you have not watched the movie give it a shot. From the first time I saw Mr. Gower stumble into the high school history class as a substitute teacher, I wanted to be like him. You see Mr. Gower, not being a real teacher at all, was a little looney and had wandered away from a mental institution. He brought a different way of teaching history to the classroom.

When he came to class dressed as George Washington and re-enacted the crossing of the Delaware with his students, I thought that’s exactly how I would do it. I too would take the looney path if for no other reason than it was different and just might lead me to something really special.

Richard Mulligan as Mr. Gower in Teachers

The line most folks remember from the Robert Frost poem is probably this, ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by.’ But it’s the last line that has stuck with me all these years of choosing different paths.

‘And that has made all the difference.’

At times I have taken the road most traveled and at other times I’ve chosen the one traveled less. Every one of those choices were the correct ones to make. Some were easy to walk and others brought me difficulties. But I now understand that it’s not choosing the right path to the right destination that is important. It’s simply the journey that makes life worthwhile.

Tomorrow, the Doodle and I start down our next path. After a couple months of getting used to living in our RV, the Terra, we begin our journey out of Ohio. For the next six months we will be choosing paths and roads that many have traveled and some that few have gone down. But as Robert Frost penned, I know that each choice, including the little looney one of living in a RV, will make all the difference.

I hope you join us as we travel by following our blog posts. We’re going to use the blog as a daily journal for the most part. Some entries will be short while some longer in thought and some will even be shared by the Doodle from her perspective. Those will probably be the most entertaining.

So again, I hope you join us on our adventure. And please contribute your thoughts and comments on our postings. I’d love to hear your stories on the paths you have taken.

See you down the road….

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….

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….

And in the morning….

It’s 6am and I’m somewhere in North Dakota. I’m traveling on the AMTRAK #27 Empire Builder train on my way west to Glacier, Montana.

The light of morning is just starting to brighten the eastern sky. Just enough that I can see there is a mix of clouds above us. Should be a pretty colorful sunrise. That’s my hope.

While waiting on the sunrise this morning, I was reminded of this verse from the book of Numbers:

“Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening until morning. When it lifted in the morning, they started out. It didn’t matter whether it was day or night. When the cloud lifted, the people started out.” – Numbers 9:21 NIRV

As a simple description, the cloud in this verse was the guiding spirit of God that was leading the people of Israel to the promised land. I’ve often reflected on that last sentence, ‘When the cloud lifted, the people started out’. In other words, the people didn’t move until God did.

Have you ever been waiting for God to make his move? To show you what to do next? I have. Many times. And many of those times, my patience wore thin in the waiting and I got mad at Him. I went ahead and made my move without Him. Bet you can guess how well that went for me.

No matter how impatient we become waiting on God to do something, it really is in our best interest to wait for Him. What I have learned is that while I’m waiting I need to be calm and secure in knowing that the move God will make in my life will come at exactly the time that is best for me.

So as I wait on God’s timing, I’m doing my best to be patient and prepare myself to be ready to go. So I can say “It didn’t matter whether it was day or night”, I was ready to follow.

See you down the road….