I have a thing for paths and journeys.
I like walking along, single file mostly.
I’m not a 4-lane highway kind of person, by any means.
I like to meander…
…though I’m a bit more efficient and direct than my partner, Steve.
When he feels that I’m being too driven and not aware enough of my surroundings, he says that I’m “doing the train”.
Okay, I get it. So we tend to travel narrow, but not too straight. I like it that way.
While I was off in California at my brother’s wedding, my blogger friend Juls from Paris challenged me to a writing exercise. Finally today, on a cool, rainy Saturday, I’ve had time to myself to sit down and write. Here is the link to Juls’ post. (This is my tricky way to get you to visit her site and discover an amazing quadra-lingual traveler and photographer!) Here are the rules:
1. Open a blank Document
2. Set a stop watch or your mobile phone timer to 5 or 10 minutes, whichever challenge you prefer.
3. Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!!!
4. Once you start writing do not stop until the alarm sounds!
5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write with correct spelling and grammar.)
6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals.
7. At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” to give an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
8. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nomination (at least five (5) bloggers)
The topic I was given was “The Road”. I gave myself 10 minutes. Here’s what I wrote:
The road is the path for the journey. The road is where we spend our time, living and going, breathing, walking, being alive, moving forward. The road is not always comfortable for me. I have often wanted to stop, to set up house, to be sheltered and still, coddled and kept safe. Danger exists on the road. Danger exists in life, and every instinct in me wants to minimize danger, for myself, my children, my loved ones. Trying to eliminate danger, trying to make the road more like a safety shelter, is a constant struggle against reality. I have tried many established ways of making the journey of life and death more comfortable. I have gone deeply into religion, the sojourner who seeks the aide of the divine to travel more safely. I have surrounded myself with the buttresses of society, traveling in numbers to increase safety and minimize inconvenience. The funny thing is, when the most dramatic events occur, I find that I am truly experiencing them alone. No one really travels through death in company. When your brain is about to shut off, who thinks your final thoughts with you? No one.
I have lost a lot on the road; I have gained much as well. My sister and I were in a car crash on an Interstate Highway. She lost control and was killed beside me. I lost my husband in the safety of our own home as we slept. Death is in life, not in location. I have discovered life on the road, on the journey. Moving forward to greater acceptance of my children and their autonomy is a fine example of this. It is an experience of opening up to possibility, to opportunity, to change and movement and dance. You can’t step in the same river twice; you can’t leave the road and still go somewhere. I have been stuck at the side of the road for stretches of time. I invariably begin to twitch, feel hot and restless. It is not living. The road is wonder, challenge, growth. I want to be on it; I want to be moving forward, even as I resist and return to neuroses sometimes.
Word Count = 365 words…one word for every day in the year, oddly enough. My 5 nominees for the challenge are:
Hoping you’ll find this stimulating! And now, set your timers and scroll down for the topic….
Your topic is: SPIRIT. Go!
Believe it or not, we had a green Christmas here in Milwaukee, and we STILL haven’t gotten snow. I appreciated not worrying about my kids driving on the roads to visit me, and I’ve enjoyed going hiking in the warmer temperatures. But I also enjoy snow hiking, even though I don’t own snowshoes. The transformation of familiar objects and landscapes in winter is always interesting. Without foliage, the contours of the land come out more strikingly. With snowfall, they soften and blossom like ripe flesh. We headed out to Lapham Peak yesterday in bright sunshine. We discovered that they had created snow for some of their cross country ski trails. Man-made, electricity-dependent snow. Because this is Wisconsin, dammit, and we just can’t wait around for Mother Nature; winter break is NOW and it oughta be snowing already! (sigh) It’s sad to me that humans can’t slow down to fall in step with the planet. We keep pushing it to keep abreast of us. It’s like watching parents push their toddlers to be grown up by signing them up for language, dance and art lessons before they even hit nursery school. It smells manipulative and inauthentic. I am sniffing around in the other direction, trying to learn to open up to what exists.
The snow-making machine looks like a lunar landing module.
The boardwalk through the wetland has buckled and twisted in the process of freezing and thawing. It reminds me of the changeable dynamic of a journey, a path in constant flux. It tells me that my progress was not intended to be in a straight line, that meanders are natural and meaningful. And that makes them interesting and challenging. They invite me to adjust my balance, to pay attention, to dance with them.
I have no idea what is around the bend. There’s a new year coming up, full of mystery and thrilling movement. I am feeling less afraid and unsafe in this realization, and more eager to take the fun house walk.