The paths we tread…
I spent a night over my weekend in Asheville, visiting with a friend going through a difficult period in his life. We shared some food and caught up with each other’s lives since the last time we had a chance to be in the same space together. Even though we are in touch daily through the magic of technology, it’s still a joy to share real face to face conversation in the same room! Simple pleasures.
The drive from Asheville to Knoxville coming home took much longer than normal due to rush hour traffic and, more notably, to road construction and lane closures. Departing from my usual habit of listening to music while on the road, I chose to forgo any radio or CD, listening instead to the road and to my own thoughts. It gave me a chance to absorb my surroundings and to imagine the lives of the people in the vehicles sharing the road with me.
What are their stories, I wondered? I had just said goodbye to a friend I love like family, not knowing how his current situation and challenges are going to work themselves out, but grateful for the chance to visit and share meals, laughs and tears with him, however briefly. As the road whizzed (and sometimes crept!) under my wheels, I began to ponder the people in the cars and trucks nearby. To where, or from where, are they traveling? The woman in my rear view mirror was on her phone, smiling and chatting with some unseen party. To my right, a man in a pickup was obviously listening to music, and greatly enjoying what he heard. Several people on motorcycles buzzed past me going WAY too fast…I had to wonder, “What is the hurry? Is the enjoyment of the speed worth the danger you place yourself in, as well as those around you sharing this stretch of road?”
Here’s the thing. Every human being I encounter is traveling a path, just as I am. We each have a journey along which we learn lessons, finding joy and love, heartache and misery. Each person’s path intersects my own, where it does and when it does, for a reason. Our paths may cross but briefly, for a mere moment. We may travel parallel to one another for a while and then take separate forks in the road. Now and then, though, I have the joy of meeting a kindred soul whose path merges with my own, and we walk hand in hand, sharing the road with all its varying landscapes and its smooth and rocky patches. Whether this path is with a mate, a friend or a family member, the road is richer and more beautiful when traveled together.