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….

Route Recalculating

Hey there. It’s been a while.

Life got very busy for me over the past three months. I retired from a thirty-seven year career in the I.T. field, sold our family home of the past eighteen years, moved into an apartment for the first time in my life, and I’ve been helping my daughter get her business off the ground.

Yep – I’m taking it easy in retirement.
Not really sure how you do that but I’m working on it.

Retiring at Fifty-eight was not in my original life plan. Nor was losing my wife to cancer. But one thing I’ve discovered through the past few years is that when the road we’re traveling in life changes and our destination becomes uncertain, who we are as the traveler doesn’t really change. Here’s what I mean.

Throughout my working life, I’ve always worked with computers in one way or another. Programming, in my opinion, is a form of art. It’s creative, it can be original and unique, and it can be awe-inspiring to see the final outcome of your work. It’s not a symphony by Beethoven or a masterpiece by Monet, but in its own way, a well-done computer program is a work of passion that any I.T. geek can be very proud of.

I loved the various types of work I did and positions I held over those I.T. years but in all honesty, over these past few months, I really haven’t missed it. What I’ve learned is that it wasn’t the type of work I was doing that was fulfilling to me but it was working with others that were just as passionate about their work that brought me wholeness. My experiences with my teammates, my coworkers, my “life traveling” companions is what made it all fun and meaningful.

As a child, I was pretty much a shy introvert. I had a hard time feeling comfortable in meeting new people and being in large crowds. I preferred to just hang out with a few close friends in our neighborhood most of the time. This led to some lifelong friendships but also kept me from getting to know a whole bunch of other folks. I sometimes wonder how many friendships I missed creating back then and experiences lost.

But when I turned sixteen and got my driver’s license, my world expanded in both area and relationships. Those four years of high school were a time of so many memorable experiences for me and I cherish them all. The good, the bad, and the ones I’m still surprised I survived.

At my 40th High School reunion a few weekends ago, many of us from the CHS class of 1978 laughed and enjoyed looking back at our high school journey and reliving the past. Matter a fact we relived it so well that the local deputy paid us a visit around 2am at our hotel. We’ve still got it was our motto for that night! Not sure what that ‘it’ really is these days but it’s still ours.

While I was driving home the next day after our reunion, I was thinking about friends that were not able to make it this year and some of our shared memories. In particular, I was thinking about one childhood buddy that wasn’t there with us. Bob. He is one of the twelve classmates we’ve already lost. Cancer got the best of him in 2017.

A number of us talked and laughed about times with Bob during our reunion weekend but while driving home I became rather angry over it. Angry that this damnable disease has touched my life and the lives of so many of those I care about. Everyone dies but cancer, this horrible disease, takes too many too early.

I hate it. I asked God to destroy it or take it far from this earth so it could no longer strike down those we love. I was becoming quite upset when at that moment a song came on the radio that brought me out of my anger and back to a place of peace. And the next song that played confirmed that peace and a few tears of thankfulness.

The songs ‘Praise You in this Storm’ by Casting Crowns and ‘Even If’ by MercyMe, both speak to the struggle we face in our lives due to illness, relationships, or any hardship. Dark things that we can’t control that are put in our path that we have to somehow try to navigate around, no, make it through. Horrible things. Things not planned in our life journey.

Both songs brought me back to my faith and belief that there’s really just one way to make it through those dark times. We can try all the human ways of dealing with tragedy and death, and believe me I’ve tried many over the years, but the one thing that has gotten me through is giving the anger, pain, and hurt away to the One, the only one, that can truly make it easier. Not necessarily take it away but carry it for me. I’m grateful for that each and every day.

This past weekend here in Columbus was the Pelotonia. The annual bike ride to raise funds for cancer research and to find a cure. Many of my friends touched by cancer rode again this year. I believe for them as well as myself the lyrics from ‘Even If’ sum up how we feel and where our hope and strength lie. Give both songs a listen to perhaps hear for the first time how you can make it through.

“They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone”

May it be well with you as you continue your life journey – see you down the road.