It’s been almost two months now, that the highways and byways have had me traveling their roads. One of the goals of this journey was to stretch my boundaries, and learn about other’s lives … what is important to them, what made them who they are, their loves & losses, and they paths they have walked. We all tend to see life from our own – somewhat narrow – prospective. We don’t know, or easily forget, what it’s like living on the “other side of the tracks” from where our house sits … be it a mobile or a mansion, found in a white neighborhood or one filled with a multitude of colors; whether a one-room Christian church sits on the corner or an ornate Buddhist temple is hidden down a long path; one tongue born in English or one born in Chinese; worshiping a lone god or white or bronze skin, or undefined spirits that live in every thing that moves or breathes on the earth. Some burn wood for heat in the cold northwoods, others grumble over the electric bill in the heat of the city. The employed, retired, disabled, the homemakers, the seeking. All different. And all have amazing stories.
In the last two months I’ve stayed with those who struggle and those who don’t. I’ve had the honor and gift of sharing time with a Native American family and a Mennonite family; I’ve talked and hugged single men & women, and both newly-wed & long-married couples; I’ve slept with a few cats curled up at my feet, birds flying overhead squawking & heralding my arrival, and dogs – from 10 lbs to 150 lbs – flopping in my lap or nuzzling my cheek. And each & every stop has held something special … a lesson, a gift, a deeper understanding of both myself and those I learn from. Misconceptions are erased and knowledge is gained. It’s not just about “seeing the country”, but it’s also about realizing that although we are all so very unique, and our lives are all so very different, we are also all of the same at heart. Each and every one of us – no matter our station in life – want to be accepted fully for the human spirit that never dies. We want to be listened to, as we share our stories and break bread at the dinner table. To know – and have cherished – those stories that are special to us … it is an honor when they are shared, and they are a part of our own journey here … a part of what makes us who we are. We all simply want be loved & valued … no matter our color, our religion, whether we have tattoos or not. Whether we are young or old, single, divorced three times, or married once, with a pastel of kids. It matters not our status or station in life. We simply want to know that our lives count… that we are here for a reason, and that we make a difference. And we do … each and every one of us.
Monday marks two full months on the road, and there are many more yet to come. Many new areas – heck, I’m still in the NE (Chicago area until Sunday) … I’ve yet to see the south or the south- or north- west … and many new people and stories. I’ve already learned so very much – not only about the people and places I visit, but about myself. I hope to share some of those insights soon with you.