Anywhere from Anywhere

September 24, 2023

My wife and I like to go. Just go. Sometimes we have a destination in mind. Most often not. Just out for a ride. We have oft-traveled roads to places oft-visited. Many are WalMart sites. But mostly, we just go and roads untraveled are becoming fewer and farther away.

When traveling, I notice roads. Mark them mentally. Often I will see the same name in two different locations. Pine Hollow Road at the end of Camp Road. Pine Hollow Road off Route 36. Could it be that they are the same road? Tylersburg Road off Route 66. Tylersburg Road off Route 36. Is it possible? Sign to Hearts Content off Route 62. Sign for Hearts Content off Route 6. Could it be? My wife and I love to just go and we are alert to new roads. New possibilities.

We are thus always finding alternate ways to go. Just go. On one of our trips to Jamestown, through Warren, I noticed a street sign. I don’t recall the name. I came to a T and turned left on the last leg of the trip and noticed that name again. On the way back, I took that turn. It was indeed the same road, and as a bonus, there was a HUGE hobby store selling model train supplies including a book with a train layout I had back in the 1980s. I had built the layout but had to leave it in the house we left. And I lost the book. There are shiny pebbles everywhere. We can miss many by simply forgoing unknown roads.

Coming from a long life in Pittsburgh suburbs, alternate ways to go were currency because orange barrel season strikes often and most often random. Traffic jams in Pittsburgh are not like “traffic jams” in the forest. When we get caught in a construction zone here, we are rarely third or farther in line from the pinch point. We’re spoiled by traffic tie-ups that last five minutes. “Total Gridlock.” I used to spend an hour and a half in traffic in the Squirrel Hill Tunnel on the Parkway East on the way home from work. Monday through Friday. Alternate routes could buy back life in small chunks that, once spent were gone for good otherwise.

I find a lesson in all of this. There are many different ways to get to the same places. Of course, this applies to roads, but it is bigger than that. It has made me work a little at expanding my thinking. Different ways usually make for different experiences. No way is ever right to the absolute exclusion of all others. More time. Less miles. More scenery. Less traveled. Better road. Fewer lights. Faster speed limits.

Life is like that too, except that you don’t always get to try different paths. Still, there is a lesson. Not everyone will take the same road. I’m not the first person to spend time thinking about this. Or writing about it. Robert Frost famously wrote about it in his famous poem ‘The Road Not Taken’.

“Two roads diverged in wood and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

He noted that he could always go back and try the other path but that, given the way things lead to other things, it would probably never happen.

In a world divided by politics, religion, race, nationality, etc. Etc. ETC., it might pay to take a more expansive view of the roads traveled; Ours and those of everyone else. There is an old tale about someone asking for directions… and the response was

‘You can’t get there from here’.

There is a way to get anywhere. From anywhere. It may require travels down paths and through areas I would not want to go, but I can’t say a destination is impossible. I also can’t know what I would miss by having taken a different route. Or gain. I can’t dismiss routes taken by others. Even when I believe those routes are harder or longer. Or wrong. People want to take other paths. People need to take other paths. For whatever reason. You can get anywhere from anywhere. I have always been free to admit that my way is not the only way. I usually KNOW that it is the best way. (If I ever became convinced it was not, I would have changed my route.)

When my wife and I travel these days, it is often the journey driving the trip. The destination is not our main focus. We find a lot of wonderful destinations along and at the end of wonderful journeys. It is not a big leap to see that is also a metaphor for marriage. For any marriage. The journey has been the thing for us. Arriving together has always been all-important. The only thing required of the destination. We had a direction but no way to know exactly where the road would lead. Lots of twists and turns. Most were new to us. Unknown. Sometimes we had to stop and ask directions. Neither of us has ever been too proud to do that. Our travels brought us to the forest. We made it our home. We’re still traveling. We like to go. Just go. There have been a few bumps and storms along the way. We’re still traveling.

The road is littered with failures and crashes. The world loves to litter. Some take the wrong roads and are unable to adjust. Some fall victim to the hazards of the roads. And some get where they are going. Different roads than we used, but arrival just the same. There is no single ‘right way’. I am very suspicious of anyone who insists that their way is right to the exclusion of all others. That they are better for traveling it. You can get anywhere. From anywhere.

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