Other roads

July 24, 2017

IMG_6247Rifling through my wallet to pull out my dimes and pennies, I apologized to the clerk. “Sorry,” I told her, when I had the right amount for my gas station cappuccino, “I like to use up my spare change before leaving the country.” “Oh!,” she said, her weariness morphing into a starry-eyed smile. “Must be nice,” she added. I felt at once guilty and starry-eyed for my own version of hers. “No,” I started to explain, “I just live there …” My voice trailed off as I thanked her and jolted myself back into the fast-paced mindset of get-in-mom’s-car-and-get-on-with-trip-to-airport mode. I squelched my desire to explain the ins and outs of this life journey, reminding myself that the average stranger is not likely to be interested in my poetic musings … and, for that matter, I’m not all that interested in waxing poetic when international travel is looming in my immediate future. But the fact is that, in between the fits and starts of frenetic business matters, my deeper self is preoccupied with a deeper sense of reality than that which is urgent. I know something about myself that the world does not yet know. I know that each year it gets harder to say goodbye to the “home” that family is for me. I know that my independent, self-sufficient, footloose-and-fancy-free globetrotting persona is not the deepest part of who I am. I know that the experiences I have had as a resident of Asia, Africa, and Europe have been invaluable and have formed me–or perhaps have simply filled a mold that was already there? I am also growing aware of some truths that are more obvious but that I have not been so aware of till now: of the ways in which 40-ish-ness affects my interests, my intellect, and my physical self, for one. And of the ways in which marriage changes those aspects as well–or perhaps the way it makes them more fully authentic?
I know that I have countless steps to take yet before coming to any real maturity or wisdom. But I think I’ve come a little ways along that path of late. And I think I know where this path will lead in the not-so-distant future.
A poem I happened upon this morning, via Anita Lustria’s Faith Conversations podcast, says it better than I can. I will close with the words of Ruth Bidgood.
No need to wonder what heron-haunted lake
lay in the other valley,
or regret the songs in the forest
I chose not to traverse.
No need to ask where other roads might have led,
since they led elsewhere;
for nowhere but this here and now
is my true destination.
The river is gentle in the soft evening,
and all the steps of my life have brought me home.

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