A couple of years ago, I was doing a little R&R at Bro's fine little home in the North Georgia mountains. Lots of reading, writing, rocking on the porch, cups o' tea, and mountain road walks. It was during one of these walks that I had a series of encounters with various creatures just trying to get across the road:
Walking, head down, and there it was. A red and black bug picking its way across the dirt and gravel road. The only reason I saw it instead of squashing it was because I was trying to avoid stepping on a loose rock and sliding downhill on my rear-end. Just a little walk along a mountain road, except the joy of the trees and the smells and the breeze were tempered with the caution of an impending butt-slide.
Anyway. I did notice this little creepy-crawly, meticulously navigating the path – just like I was, except he was heading across and I was heading down (preferably standing upright). So, one good thing was that I avoided turning it into a greasy spot in the road. I didn’t really think much about it – two ships passing in the night – more like a super-freighter and a toy boat passing in the late afternoon – and went on my way.
Toward the bottom of the hill, I barely missed squishing a caterpillar into oblivion. Slowly, in a different sort of movement from the other bug, the little caterpillar was working its way across the road.
Later, a long, elegant worm zig-zagged in front of me, hell-bent on getting to the other side of the road. I stopped and watched for a bit, the worm going very fast, but doubling back on itself to make an elegant serpentine movement.
Well, I say to myself. Isn’t that really what it’s all about in the end? Just trying to get to the other side of the road.
In your teens and twenties, life is about shooting straight to the top. It’s not, of course, but you think it is. And you need to think that. How boringly ponderous to sign up for the “just getting across the road” bandwagon at that age? No. You’ve got to give it your best shot. Plenty of time to get to wherever it is you want to go.
The thirties and forties – well, still trying to hang on to the straight, rapid ascent theory, but here and there you stall out. Stop at the rest areas up the ladder. But once you catch your breath, why, you get back into the groove. Goals are looking closer, aren’t they? Or have they changed? Goals? What goals? Sometimes there’s no ladder at all. You’re in the middle of the ocean, head above water, that sort of thing. By the way, where the hell did I put that ladder?
Ah, but in good time you find yourself part way across a road. You can see the other side, right? Just there? Anyway, sometimes the road you’re trying to get across is a rocky mountain trail; sometimes it’s a busy, rush-hour freeway; sometimes it’s a shady neighborhood street.
But the road isn’t the important thing. Well, maybe it is pretty important, but even more important is how you cross it. And there’s no right or wrong way. It’s sort of inbred – whether we pick our way across, or slowly, interestingly crawl across, or sexily slither and squirm across. Nope – there are really interesting things all across the road, however you maneuver around them. And different people meet different obstacles along the way. Over, under, around, and through. Just getting across the road in your best style is what counts. We’re all given interesting, hard, happy, tragic things to go over, under around and through.
And in the backs of our minds, we’re hoping that the giants in our lives – whatever shapes they take – don’t squash us along the way.