“Next Rest Area: 1,000 Miles”

It has been an emotional couple of weeks. Last week was overwhelmingly sad and scary (And not just because of the news.) This coming week will be just as overwhelmingly joyous and celebratory. And in between, there have been moments of humor, exhaustion, sweetness, anger, numbness, friendship, and loneliness. Granted, all of these things are a part of life and experienced regularly. But they aren’t usually all jammed into a couple of weeks.

Kind of like binge watching all of Game of Thrones in a single day.

Highs and lows, up and down, like a San Francisco street car.

Tom Cochrane may have sung that “Live is a highway”, but i would say that isn’t necessarily a good thing. If your life is like a highway in north Jersey, for example, riddled with potholes, crazy high tolls, and the aromas of Newark … Well, it would be easy to wish you stayed in bed.

Sometimes life has been more like a highway in DC. Overrun with self-serving and dishonest schmucks who refuse even the smallest bit of graciousness by letting you into the fray. With no one giving you a break, you end up railroaded off an exit and into a neighborhood even rabid dogs won’t go near. You tearfully make your way back to the interstate, just hoping you get there before someone carjacks you.

Far too often life is like a highway in NYC or LA – So crazy busy and congested that you can’t get off the highway to pee, never mind eat. You just keep your mind on your destination, cross your fingers and your legs, and hope you get to the end point before you lose your mind or wet your pants. (All the while assuming that you are going the right way, even as you see a landmark that you are sure you passed 20 minutes ago…)

At other times, life can be like a highway in Louisiana. What was once beautiful is now broken. The landscape, still half drowned in rain and tears, is a reminder that nothing in life is indestructible, and not everything is fixable.  You curse Mother Nature, the government, and people’s short memories as you envision what was and what should be. You think about what could be. But you know that even if effort goes in, things are never the same after. The melancholy and resignation is palpable.

When we are lucky, life is like a highway on the Pacific Northwest coast – Long swaths of panoramic views that take your breath away and remind you that God/Goddess/Universe was a freaking artistic genius. Beauty. Majesty. All four earth elements existing at once. Awesome in the literal sense. The caveat to this is that, sooner or later, most of us have to move on to find work or purpose. (Or maybe it’s that most of us can only take viewing so much beauty before we need some urban filth and grit to balance it out. What do i know? I’m not Voltaire.)

Of course, there are the intermittent times when life is like a highway in Kansas. Easy, breezy, and boring as hell.

But lately, for me, the highway of life has been like Rhode Island. At times dirty, dismal, and depressing; other times, picturesque and coastal; sprinkled liberally with all forms of suburbia, good, bad, and ugly… And the whole thing passing so rapidly that you have to pull over at the local Friendly’s and rehash it in your brain to be sure you didn’t miss something. It seems impossible that all that stuff has passed in only an hour.

Truthfully, i hope the next part of life’s highway has Glacier Lake view and a reasonably priced upscale hotel; but with my luck, it will be overrun with dead deer and abandoned truck stops. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. Realistically, i will have to settle for the nice-enough scenic overlook and a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar from the gas station to refill my tank. Thankfully, both of those things are known to keep me from running on empty, even if they aren’t the stuff of pop songs.

So, my friends, if your highway of life has lately been overwhelming, know that it isn’t you. It’s the stars or the gods or statistics or whatever. And all we can do is keep driving. Even the worst traffic jams eventually make their way to open road. And if you keep driving straight ahead, sooner or later, you’ll be at a beach. And things are always better at the beach. Right?

*****

One last thing… The following Stephen King quote always makes me laugh, and much of the reason is that a small part of me wonders if it’s true….

“When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, ‘Why God? Why me?’ And the thundering voice of God answered, There’s just something about you that pisses me off.”

Touché, Universe. Touché.

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