Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The Map of Life
I look back with fondness on days when life was all planned out. We didn't need a goal, or a map, or a list of resolutions.
Because we were young.
And our parents led the way through whatever obstacles or darkness or unknown territory awaited us.
After all, they had the Map of Life.
I remember being in the back seat of my Dad's red and white Pontiac- the vinyl seats smooth and cold- the windows all rolled down- the sun setting over a summer day...
I was riding in the floorboard- my little-girl body folded into one half... my sister Linda in the other- separated by the "hump"-(where the drive shaft was in cars back then)... our blond heads touching as though we were Siamese twins conjoined at the brain.
The feel of nighttime whistled in the open windows...music of crickets -and tires on asphalt- and dogs barking behind picket fences. There was the perfume of corn fields and wild honeysuckle... that soon blended with big-city smells and Dad's Camel cigarettes.
And from my vantage point, the stars would go spinning by like a thousand tiny snowflakes on a black flannel sea.
There was something warm and safe about being there...of Dad and Mom piling us all into the car for a trip to Grandma's...over an hour away- across blankets of soybeans and dairy farms- until we finally crossed the old iron bridge that spanned the Mississippi.
We knew exactly where we were going- and how we were going to get there.
We never questioned Dad's driving ability, never feared losing our way- and never hurried the ride.
It was all taken care of- all we had to do was relax and enjoy the journey.
But then I grew up.
I realized that there is no Map of Life.
At least not one you can pull out and unfold and see just where you're going.
The Map of Life is one you have to make yourself...draw in all those little roads that take you through memories and milestones...plot those places you dream of going someday...avoid the pitfalls and dead ends the best that you can.
And no matter how precise- how well-meaning our map is- there will always be the obstacles we didn't see, lessons we failed to learn, paths we didn't take and places we never knew.
Suddenly, time catches up- and the map grows smaller.
It gets wrinkled and worn...and the folds grow soft with the repeated caress of aging hands.
Places fade, faces dim, journeys are forgotten in a fog of years.
But who says we can't draw a new map? Crisp and clean and brilliant with new roads?
I am ready.
I want to draw my Map of Life without fear...
I want to take the scenic routes instead of the shortcuts...
I want to draw secret paths that wind around the joy of ordinary days...
I want to smell the cornfields and honeysuckle...
I want to rest when I'm tired, sing when I'm happy, and run! Run till my lungs and legs and logic get the best of me.
I want to soak up life, breathe in spirit, enjoy this priceless journey without time limits.
I want to watch the stars go spinning by like a thousand tiny snowflakes on a black flannel sea...
To know where I'm going and how I'm going to get there...
My journey begins.