Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Road Less Traveled Less for a Reason

Last week I had to travel for work to Pittsburgh, PA.  It required getting a rental car and driving for 4 and 1/2 hours to a city.  No big deal, right? I am almost thirty years old and shouldn't be scared by the thought of driving into a city, along unfamiliar highways and roads, right?


On the way to Pittsburgh, in VA. Some of the
most spectacular scenery I've ever beheld.
I am not the most adventurous of souls.  Well - that's not true.  Half of me is not an adventurous soul - the other half relishes the unexplored road, the thrill of figuring out how to get from point A to point B in unfamiliar territory.  But that half, the adventurous part needs to actively conjured up and it usually comes forth in the moment, when I am able to detach myself from myself and look around at my surroundings and revel in the experience itself.  But when I have time to think about traveling to the unknown, I start to worry.  Fears crop up - how am I going to be able to navigate strange roads?  Can I drive a strange car?  Can I drive in a city without getting in an accident and annoying every other driver on the road with my lack of familiarity of the area?  I mean, I avoid driving into DC and would rather take the Metro for these very reasons - how in the world would I be able to navigate Pittsburgh??

The first part of the journey, the getting to Pittsburgh part, was exquisite.  It was the clearest, brightest, most beautiful fall day that a person could ask for.  And I really do love to drive (the adventurous half of me), and the drive was so much fun.  Lots of rolling hills, curves, fast cars, and scenery that made my heart melt. Great music was a soundtrack to the swelling of my heart as I accomplished getting from point A to point B.  It was a cake walk.

Coming back? Different story.

First it was raining as I left the city.  And in trying to get out of the city I took a many wrong turn (did I mention that I did not have a GPS, just paper directions? Yes, that's right - I navigate old school - with a hope and a prayer and my ability to read road signs, which isn't that great given my terrible eyesight, even with contacts).  Finally I got on the road that I was supposed to be on.  But as I was leaving the city, I noticed one strange thing - the directions that I had were different from the directions that I had taken to get me home.  So I had a decision to make - to just go in reverse from the way that I already knew would get me from point A to point B, or to follow and navigate my way around these new directions.

And this is when I would like to state that sometimes when you have influenced your thinking by making yourself take risks, to follow the words of Robert Frost, and the example of Christopher McCandless (Into the Wild), and go down the literal path that you don't know - it can be utterly terrifying. Utterly. Terrifying. Like all of the sudden you are actually living nightmares that you've legitimately had.

Some things you learn as you navigate your way around unfamiliar territory:

  1. Google really does know everything.  Because how in the world could it really know all these random two-lane back roads through the mountains of PA, MD, WVA, and VA?
  2. As great as the iPhone 4 and the Google Maps App is, you wish you had the new iPhone4S so that Siri could reassure me that I was going to be ok - aka. that I was going in the right direction.
  3. The back roads through the mountains of PA, MD, W.VA, and VA are as twisty, bendy, and curvy as you can imagine.  And as you are navigating them in a white Toyota Camry, you wish for your curve-hugging VW Jetta and grateful that you aren't in your boss's SUV because you would for sure have rolled it over.
  4. Recurring nightmares of being in a car and going up and up and up and up at steep angles can actually come true - except in your nightmare you just go straight up. Reality you curve around bends as you go straight up a mountain.
  5. Rainbow in Maryland on the way home -
     did I mention it was raining the whole time?
  6. You wonder if these are the literal paths that Daniel Boone forged through his way into Kentucky.
  7. And then you wonder how in the world armies crossed these mountains during the Civil War.
  8. That Paw Paw, West Virginia is a real town.  And that there are some real life Paws Paws who inhabit the town.
  9. That high and acute stress can cause heartburn, even when you haven't had anything to eat all day - and then of course you wonder if you're actually having a heart attack and try to pay attention to see if your arm is going numb - but you don't have any intention of really stopping, and so pray something like "Dear Lord, please let me not be having a heart attack right now as I go around this 90-degree bend in the road."
  10. You will see some of the most spectacular views that you have ever seen in your life.
  11. When you finally get into familiar territory, you will abandon your quest to travel the road less traveled  and take the major highways home, hence being able to take deep breaths again.
Do I regret taking the road less traveled? It's fifty-fifty.  Half of myself is glad to have done so - the other half wonders why I put myself through all that stress.  But then both halves agree - it was certainly a memorable 24hr. trip.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Five Years of Blogging

September came and went before I could acknowledge The Road Goes Ever On's fifth year anniversary.  And holy cow, I can't believe that I started this little experiment over five years ago.  Seriously?

I have to admit though that this blog has been neglected for a long time.  I have been dealing with conflicting feelings about this blog and what it is for and what to actually write about and if it is even worth writing on here.  It is a pull between saying too little and saying too much.

But letting fear stagnate creativity is not something that I wish to keep doing. Life has kept me from pursuing this medium and exploring the power of the written word, but that is also an excuse that masks the fear, the lizard brain, from standing up and putting words to random thoughts that are connected in the unique way that I happen to see.

So I promise to keep going with this blog and to put a little bit more time, thought, and courage into it.  Let's see where the road takes us next...