The Car Goes Where The Eyes Go

I just finished reading the book ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’. Some of you may have also read the book or perhaps you have seen the movie that came out in 2019. For those of you that have not read the book nor seen the movie, I can tell you it’s a story that many of us can we relate to. Especially if you’re a man that lost his wife to cancer.

That’s me and I’m not ashamed to say that I cried a few times across the pages of this book. I’m not going to give you a review or synopsis of the story but will tell you that in a number of ways at a number of times it brought me both tears and laughter while I read and it ultimately gave me a sense of gratitude as well.

The saying, ‘The car goes where the eyes go’ is a favorite and life guiding mantra of the man, the husband, the father, in the story. He is a race car driver so you can understand the saying from that perspective. But there is a higher meaning of the saying in that our life will go wherever we place our focus. I’ve found that to be true in my life since my wife’s cancer and the almost three years since her passing.

As in the story, my life has changed greatly since losing her. I have endured grief, pain, loss, and the missing of her. Those first many months were rough for me. But I never lost sight of what had happened. She had finished her race not in defeat but with victory. She had shown me and our kids strength and endurance by not complaining or dwelling on the uncertainty and fear of her situation. She remained strong as best she could right up until her last few days with us. She finished her race and I can imagine with a smile in my heart, her victory lap as she arrived in heaven.

Our life, call it a rat race or a race through the years, is just that. It’s our life. We never know for sure what will lay around the next bend but if we keep our focus on what our life should truly be all about, we’ll be able to stay on the road, the track, and complete our race as well. With victory.

We may get in crashes at times. Delays may occur. Even detours that take us to places we hadn’t planned to drive to. Our race may be a sprint, a 500 miler, or more like a 24 hour endurance grand prix but whatever our race becomes the key is to keep driving to reach the finish line. To let the road we’re on become an extension of who we are and where we’re going. To take every turn with confidence knowing that we can finish in strength and with gratitude for the race we ran.

I encourage you to read this book. The subtitle for it is ‘Meet the dog who will show the world how to be human’. The story is written from the dog’s perspective and is quite entertaining. Enzo and his human Denny shared a love of racing and had worked out a method of communicating where Enzo would bark twice when asked if he really wanted to do something. The Doodle and I have are own method as well. Not barking but a certain look and she’s giving me that now. Yep, it’s time for another walk. So as Enzo would have done, we’ll bark twice. Which meant ‘Let’s go, one more lap’.

Keep your eyes on your road by friends.

See you down the road….

As The Cookie…

I love takeout! Or as they say in London, “takeaway”. Hunan Chicken and Vegetable Lo Mein have become comfort foods for me. Just as the Beatles sang, “When I find myself in times of trouble, delivery comes to me. Bringing Chinese takeaway. Just for me.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a hometown American boy and nothing will ever replace a bowl of mashed potatoes and noodles as my main comfort food. But still those soggy cartons of chicken, rice, and noodles not only fill my belly with deliciousness but also my soul with a warm feeling of peace and tranquility.

Or maybe it’s the fortune cookie that brings me comfort. Question for you. Do you read the fortune before eating the cookie or the other way around? Or maybe at the same time? Or not at all? Chinese legend tells us it’s bad luck to eat the cookie before reading the fortune. Not sure that’s true but I’m not taking any chances. Read first, eat second.

Have you ever taken that little slip of paper in the cookie seriously? Ever had it actually pertain to a situation you were currently in? Ever made a change in your life because of it? Sounds crazy doesn’t it. To make a change because of a message you received from an unexpected source.

I’m starting to think that the world, karma, cookies, and God are sending us unexpected messages all the time. It’s just most times we go on with what we want to do, eat the cookie, without reading the message first. We may even throw away the message without reading it. We’re looking for immediate comfort and some vague message, we feel, won’t bring the comfort we are looking for.

Life is full of messages. Some we hear or read which we take seriously and act upon. Others we dismiss as just funny little sayings or something that doesn’t apply to us. I’m learning that every message we receive is worthy of consideration. Something to think about. Sure many may not seem to be for us but perhaps the intent is for us to pass it on to someone else. Don’t we pass around the table the fortunes from our cookies?

I’m trying to watch and listen each day for those unique, surprising, and even somewhat weird messages that come to me. No, I don’t have voices inside my head. Well maybe sometimes I do but that’s another story. What I mean right now is that I’ve learned what I thought would bring me comfort is not necessarily what really will. I need to look beyond the temporary satisfaction to find what will give me a lasting fullness. To find what will really comfort my soul.

So the next time you crack open that real or metaphoric fortune cookie, don’t just crumble up the paper but take a moment to read it and think about it. It just may be the message you’ve been waiting for.

And remember, “Wise person never try to get even. Wise person get odder.”

See you down the road….

January 1, 2020

Welcome to the 1st day of the 3rd decade of the 21st century. Seems like we were just partying like it was 1999. Do you remember where you were that New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1999? How can it be 2020 already?

As the Doodle and I begin this new year, I’m thinking back over the past 20 years. So many happy times with friends and family. So many sad times as well.

There are days the happy memories are strong. The good old days. Births, weddings, reunions, kitchen table laughs, parties, camping, vacations, holidays at the Lonsingers. These are the memories that put a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

Then there are days the sad memories are in control. Fights with friends, family conflict, children struggles, loss of a job, breakups, deaths of those I love. These are the memories that darken the day and open again the anguish in my heart.

But it’s with strength and sincerity I can say that I’m thankful for everything and everyone that have been a part of my life. The good and the bad. The yin and the yang.

The Ancient Chinese concept of Yin and Yang can be described as follows:

“yin and yang is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.”

Man has this been true in my life! An endless cycle of good and bad times. Ups and downs. Hope and despair. I’ve tried my best to live in the good but the bad always seems to creep back in. The yin and the yang.

‘It is what it is’ was what my late wife said through her journey with cancer. She had accepted the truth of her illness, the bad, and had decided to live out her days in the good. She understood that human life is a constant cycle of yin and yang. And through her example I too now understand.

So, as I roll along in the 61st year of my life, I’m at peace with the past and the future. Both the good and bad that has been and is to come. I know the past and do not know the future but today and each day, I will do my best to live in both the yin and the yang. To the fullest. And with an assurance that both are okay and I will be too.

Exciting good and bad days are ahead in 2020. I’m ready to get going.

See you down the road….

And I’m Doing This Why?

Greetings from Mayberry R.F.D.!

This past weekend, the Doodle and I piloted the Terra, that’s our almost 38′ Class A Motorhome, down Interstates 71, 75, and 81 to the Mayberry campground in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. This is the beginning of our journey out of our home state of Ohio living in the Terra, on the road, for at least the next six months.

If this sounds sort of crazy to you, that’s okay. It still does to me sometimes even though it’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years. Life events, many good and one horrible, have led me to this time and this way of living and I’m optimistic about the adventure before me. And just a little anxious as well.

For those of you new to Posts From Along The Road, I want to backup to four years ago so you have perhaps a better understanding of why this almost 60 year guy is becoming a nomad. I prefer the term gypsy as it seems more adventurous and mystical than nomad but simply put, I’ve become a full time RVer. Here’s how I got to this point and why.

In late August of 2015 by wife of 30 years, Barbara, was diagnosed with a Glio Blastoma brain tumor. She had been having symptoms of nausea and headaches for a few months and one night after work we decided to go to the emergency room. Not expecting anything like cancer, we and our children were devastated with the diagnosis. It had only been one and half years earlier that we lost Barb’s younger brother Greg to a brain tumor as well. A train had just hit us head on. Again.

If you knew Barb, you wouldn’t be surprised by her attitude about becoming a cancer patient. She had a number of sayings and “it is what it is” became sort of a mantra for us as she bravely persevered through two brain surgeries, two types of chemo treatment, and radiation. Through it all, she rarely complained. She showed great strength to the kids and I. She knew what the outcome would be if a miracle did not occur but that did not cause her to fear as her faith was strong and her love of God was great. We were told the average life span of someone her age was around 15 months. We were blessed to have her with us, post diagnosis, for almost 19 months. She finished her journey with cancer in early March of 2017 on her brother Greg’s birthday.

During her battle with cancer, I started journaling about what she and we were experiencing as a way to help me cope with all the emotions I was encountering. I began writing on Facebook as I would sit on our front porch while she was resting. I called those entries “Front Porch Sit’n”. As Barb’s battle continued I found that my writings helped me and a number of others that were either our friends or folks also dealing with their own cancer journey in someway.

Because of that feedback and encouragement, I decided to start this blog about two years ago and have continued writing about life experiences living now on my own. You see you never really get over losing someone that was your other half. You just get through it. You hold on to hope and have faith that life will go on for you. Not the same life but still a life worth living. I’ve found that to be true.

Prior to her cancer showing up, I had been working on convincing Barb that an RV would be great to have for weekend getaways and longer vacations. We could take the kids and their kids with us on some adventures. After nearly twenty years of convincing her, she started to warm to the idea but only for trips, not full time. We went to a couple RV shows and she was really starting to come around to the idea. Especially when the term ‘glamping’ became popular. You see she liked the idea of seeing the country at our own pace and in our own ‘hotel room on wheels’ but she did not like the idea of a ‘dump station’. Yes, she had watched the movie RV.

As this world would have it, Barb never got to join me on RV adventures. And honestly with her passing I had pretty much given up on the idea completely. But a little over a year ago, the thought started coming back to me. I had started noticing RVs on the highways again. So many different styles, sizes, and options. I wondered if it was something I should go ahead and do.

I must have looked at twenty or thirty RVs over the past year before finding the Terra and deciding to go for it. Since late July of this year, the Doodle and I have been living in the Terra full time. I have no apartment or house to go back to although my kids have offered their sofas. For a short time. If it’s an extreme situation. I love my kids! 

 

So, it’s just the Doodle and I and our essential possessions in the RV and whole bunch of other stuff left in Ohio in a rather large storage unit. As George Carlin once said, ‘And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff.’ Truth!

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So here we are today October 16, 2019, parked on a hill overlooking the rather scenic Mayberry campground. We’ll be enjoying this view for the next month before heading further down the road to South Carolina during the month of November and then Florida in December. I have us planned and booked through mid January. Then we’ll head west around the Gulf of Mexico and through Texas, New Mexico, and into Phoenix, Arizona, by late February. Just in time to spend a month enjoying Spring Baseball games. After that I’m not sure yet where the Terra will take us but that’s part of the fun of full time RV living. You make plans but keep them flexible. Kind of like life in general don’t you think?

Barb had another saying that has become a favorite for myself and our closest friends. “There’s a lesson in that”. Barb always thought of others first and even as she was going through her cancer, she kept that focus. While others were doing all they could to give her comfort and strength, she was passing it along to everyone she encountered. She gave it to me, our kids, our family, our friends, and even the staff at the hospital. She believed in not worrying about the future but trusting that at the end she would be okay. She lived her journey to the fullest and I believe there is indeed a lesson in that for all of us.

So if you are new to Posts From Along The Road, you now have the background on why I write and why I’m doing this whole RV thing. I have planned out the journey for the next few months but I’m not tied to it. I’m asking God to lead me on this adventure to see the places and meet the people I’m supposed to encounter. To experience life to the fullest on the roads I travel. To accept that it is what it is. And of course, to learn the lessons from it all.

It would be great if you would join the Doodle and I on our journey so please like and follow the blog and our social media for Posts From Along The Road. And please feel free to leave your comments on what I share and more importantly what you have experienced on your life journey. It would be a great encouragement to me to hear your stories.

That’s it for now and we’ll see you down the road….

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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 Seasons Change

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Always has been and always will be. It seems to connect with my soul in a way that the others simply do not. Are you like that? Which season connects best with you? Why do you think that is?

Each brings its own uniqueness and beauty to our world. Winter’s beautiful snow falls and long restful nights. Spring’s reemergence of life and the lengthening of daylight. Summer’s thrill of thunderstorms and the longer hours of warm sunshine. And Autumn’s transition of beautiful colors and the glow of bonfires at the end of the shortening days. Each in its own way is special. Each brings its own joys and challenges. Each shows us that our world is at constant change.

And so are our lives. Over my nearly 60 years or 240 seasonal transitions, I’ve experienced many changes. Moving from one season of my life to the next. Many seasons were fantastic times in my life while others were horrible. Most memories I cherish while others I dread recalling. And a few I wish to never experience again.

But I can honestly say each season of my life brought to me something special. Something to learn from. Something to share with others and something to experience just by myself. Something that has become a part of me and has helped shaped me into the person I am today.

I’ve experienced the long nights of darkness and cold with the passing of those I’ve loved. I’ve enjoyed the birth of new life through my children and grandchildren. I’ve thrilled in the times of family vacations and road trips with friends. And I have found great joy that I can now look back to and see that what I experienced, as easy or difficult it may have been, was just part of the transitions that must occur in life.

The world and our lives were not made to stay the same. Everything around us and in us is constantly changing. Growing, dying, and coming back to new life. Just as we see nature shine and dim through the seasons, we too experience the same shining and dimming in our lives. The world goes on and so do we.

There may be seasons where we feel it’s our last and eventually that season will come for each of us but until then I say let’s roll with the changes. Let’s make the most of each season. Experience it. Take it in. Let it change you. Let it become a part of you that is special and unique.

At the end of November, I will turn 60. Just another number and actually I’m way more excited than apprehensive about this change. Just like yours, my life has not always been easy but transitioning into my seventh decade, I’ve accepted the fact that I cannot control much if anything in this world. So I choose to accept what comes and live both in the current season and look forward to the next.

As Autumn comes to me, I’ll be admiring the beautiful colors of my surroundings in both nature and in the people I’ll meet. And I’ll be enjoying the warmth and light of the bonfires where ever I find them over these days ahead. And probably some roasted marshmallows as well.

Live well during your season my friends and see you down the road….

Waiting For The Fog To Clear

‘As I stand atop this cliff

I look out to the sea

And as I gaze I wonder

Will this fog ever lift

So the ocean I will see.

All around me is a mist

With shapes like shadows hide

But now the dawn does break

The things that were uncertain

Now revealed by the light.’

A few years ago, our family took a trip to the California coast to move our youngest, our son, to his first year of college at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. For my wife and I it was a trip of mixed emotions saying goodbye to our son while enjoying the beauty of the area. As parents, we were very proud of him for having the courage to move so far from home but we knew we would miss him greatly. We had confidence that he would do well but we also felt some fear from thinking about the trials he most likely would encounter. On his own, away from home. Away from us.

After spending a couple days in SLO with him, my wife and I, along with his two older sisters, gave our goodbye hugs and kisses and started our journey up the coast back to San Francisco. Driving Highway 1 north we saw the most spectacular scenery. I honestly can’t remember how many times we pulled off the road to just stand and gaze from the cliffs to the sea. It was breathtaking how the light cascaded down the cliffs to dance upon the waters. It was spectacular.

One morning back in San Francisco there was a very heavy fog over the bay. From the hilltop near our hotel, I could see the early sun glistening of the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge. But about a third of the way down the steel beams disappeared and further down the road was completely hidden by the fog. It was a very surreal sight. In the same instant there was the clarity of the light and the uncertainty of the unseen. That vision and feeling comes back to me every time I think about our trip.

Fog. We’ve all seen it. Been in it. Felt it on our skin. We’ve breathed in the damp coolness. In a way it’s refreshing. There’s a stillness to it as well. Sort of peaceful although somewhat uncomfortable or unnerving. You know there are things hidden beyond what your eye can perceive. You know they are there because you’ve seen them before but now, in this moment, they’re cloaked by a mist. And you may question if they truly do exist. You wait for the fog to lift. For the world around you to be as it was before.

An earthly cloud is just one type of fog I’ve experienced in my life. There have been times, more than I wished, when I lived in a fog. Uncertain of where I was and what was going on around me. I couldn’t see beyond the next step and sometimes even that wasn’t very clear. I felt lost and alone with no certainty of what I would see next. Afraid to move forward. I wondered if the fog would ever clear.

And then it did. Slowly shapes became sharper and I could see what was ahead of me. What was around me. The light began to burn away the curtain my world had been wrapped in. Soon the uncertainty that surrounded me was vanishing. Disappearing into the sky. The fog I was living in had lifted and I was again living in the light.

I’ve come to understand that in those times of being in a fog, there really is very little I can do to make it go away. I’ve learned two things though that I can do. One, is to be faithful in the knowledge that this current fog, no matter how thick it may seem, will also eventually lift. And two, be brave enough to wait in the midst of it until I can take that next step. Not easy things to do but things I still need to do.

Over the past month living in the Terra, there have been many mornings where there was a fog in or around the campsite. The Doodle and I would venture out into it and take in all that our senses could manage. We would walk through it just a few steps at a time and stand to look around. Surprisingly we often saw, heard, or felt something we probably would have missed had the fog not been there. A hidden experience the fog revealed. Unexpected. Thankful.

Both clear and foggy days lie ahead for all of us in this life. And when the fog comes again I know I will be okay. It will lift and the light will make things clear. It always has and always will if I am brave and have faith.

See you down the road my friends….