Rockin’ the Journey


Whoa, we’re half way there
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer                                                                    

Livin’ On A Prayer lyrics
Songwriters: Bonjovi, Jon; Sambora, Richard; Child, Desmond

That’s it, keep going….you’re almost there….now a little to the left….a little to the right now…..keep going, keep going, you’re getting warmer, you’re starting to sizzle, you’re burning hot…….

Each of us is on our way somewhere. Sometimes the road stretches out further and further in front of us and we aren’t quite sure if we have enough gas, enough snacks, enough patience, or enough stamina to make it all the way. There are plenty of times when we may have every inclination to turn around and go back the way we came, instead of pressing on toward our goal. The path of least resistance doesn’t make us particularly happy or give us satisfaction or a sense of accomplishment, but it is much easier than trying to force our car’s screaming, protesting transmission up yet another steep incline.

Let’s take an imaginary trip together in our imaginary RV. (Notice: I am not really an “RV kind of person”, this is just for demonstration purposes.) We have our fridge packed, plenty of fuel in our tanks, with a little to spare for emergencies, a cold soda within reach in the cup holder, and our most comfortable non-embarrasing-should-we-need-to-get-out-in-public travel outfits. We’re taking things pretty easy, enjoying the time spent in one another’s company. Our destination: the Grand Canyon.

Along the way, there are lots of things to see and do. Some of them are pretty distracting. We might find a train museum, or a little art gallery, or a cute little burger stand with a stream running along side and shady places to eat at picnic tables. We might see unusual birds, striking sunsets, dazzling lightning storms, or cascading waterfalls along the way that beckon us to stop for a bit and practice our photography skills. We might also encounter flat tires, tourist traps, getting lost, having our wallets stolen, and throbbing sunburn.

When we’ve found our way back on the road and have double and triple checked that we’re going the right direction, we notice that not too far ahead of us is a mountain. As we grow closer to this mountain, we can see the slender hair of our road zigging and zagging up the side. You check the map. This is the only road. You groan at the very thought of driving this pull-out-all-the-stops monstrosity you HAD to have to take this trip up that steep road. (Sorry, I told you I wasn’t an RV person.)

When climbing long inclines, your RV needs to be operated within its power band.

The power band is a span of engine RPMs where you have the maximum horsepower available to handle the extra load imposed when going up long inclines.

This becomes even more noticeable with diesel engines…. (Link for this info)

 

Now, say we’ve been on a really long drive in this RV, hundreds of miles long. The Grand Canyon is a long way away from a lot of places. We’re on the way to the Grand Canyon, and we’re starting to see it on road signs we pass. The distance is shrinking mile after mile. When we’re about 50 miles away, our engine starts to overheat, we’re out of the good snacks, you and I are feeling worn out and cranky, and on top of all of that the baby is out of diapers. Oh Boy! * Hold that thought *

When I was younger, I went on a trip to the Grand Canyon with my Grandma. It was a long, hot drive. I was very excited. I had never been to the Grand Canyon before. When we got to the park, the road wove in and out of the rises and dips of the high desert landscape.We rounded a bend, and there it was, gaping like a hungry giant’s maw, stretching on and on into the distance. I jumped out of the car and ran for the guardrail to peer over the edge…and received a sharp reprimand from my mother. I cautiously, continued on my way toward the guardrail, and marveled at the sight of this one-of-a-kind wonder. It was well worth all those long hours in the car just to see such an impressive thing. True story.

My grandma absolutely refused to get out of the car. So, after we had urged her repeatedly and in vain, we spent a little time there and drove home. Now, over 20 years later, I still remember this incident. It always seemed like such a waste to me, such a pointless thing for my grandma to go all that way, and then stop before she got to the point of the trip. Isn’t that like working all the way up to payday and then refusing your check?? That’s like a big steaming plate of what’s-the-point topped with crazy sauce and a side of DOH!! (I loved my grandma very much, but sometimes she just made no sense to me.)

* OK, back to our RV trip. * So, we’re getting close to our destination. We see the signs everywhere that prove it. The road has gotten a little rough and our tempers are shorter than they were when things were smooth, we had our favorite radio station, and there was plenty of our favorite treats to go around. Now we’re stuck with a steaming radiator, the radio is stuck on the farm report, and the snack bags are full of greasy crumbs. What should we do? Should we press on, or give up and turn around? It might be a little more familiar, but think of what we’ll be missing!

When we’re in the middle of our life journey, we will have times when things go a little rougher than others, but we cannot give up and go back home. In order to be different than the person we’ve always been, in order to have a different life than the one we’ve always had, we’re going to have to complete our journey. We cannot just decide it is easier to stay the same. We’re not happy this way, but the travel time seems so long and the trip is so hard. The destination is at the end, not in the middle. We need to keep this in our minds next to the place where we keep our name. The point is not to stop, but to keep going.

“…Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…” Philippians 1: 6

The Chosen Road


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (American poet, 1874-1963)

That is a poem I memorized and took to heart when I was a junior in high school. For all the many varied and diverse roads I have traveled since then, I think I would have to agree with Mr. Frost in some regards. There are many thing you could have done that you chose not to do, and those things, taken together with the things you chose to do have shaped you to be the person you are today.

Some roads we find in life are straight and sure, free from debris and any visible threat or danger. They stretch on and on with little change or drama. Many people travel these roads, for mile upon uniform mile. These roads can seem tedious, and surreal, like you’re not actually going anywhere at all. After one hour, two, five, ten, the distance seems as distant as it did before. It seems you’ve made no progress at all. You sometimes think this MUST be the wrong way. You should have gotten somewhere by now, right? Eventually, though, you find that it was the right road after all; and thank goodness you stayed on track all the time it took! These roads seem to take up the majority of the journey.

Other roads are full of bends and sharp corners and shrubs in the middle of the path. There can be downed trees, or rock slides, or animals in the road! There are cave-ins, pitfalls, potholes, and brambles to fight our way out of and through. This road can be exciting, but it is never safe to let down your guard completely. It’s enough to make your hair turn grey! So much to see along the sides of the road, but you dare not take your eyes from in front of you! This is white-knuckle-way, Baby! You’d better fasten your seat belts here! Thankfully, these roads don’t last as long as they seem they will .

Still other roads we take are much slower, over roads that meander from side to side, and up and down over hillocks and through meadows. It’s so easy to get lost on these roads, and no trouble at all once it’s happened. These kinds of roads are full of change and surprise, but rounding a corner brings something delightful and new, some new perspective to consider. On these roads we encounter sunny glens, foamy river rapids, mountain peaks, the scent of orange blossoms, and enchanted forests we want to get lost in and never come out of again! Traveling down this road is never a trial or, unfortunately, very long.

“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.” Ayn Rand (Russian born American Writer and Novelist, 1905-1982)

The path you are traveling leads to a place you have never been before, the future, that unknown, strange, and mysterious thing. Don’t think that the ways you have been down up until now are the ONLY ways. That would be as silly as saying the people you have known up until now are the ONLY people. It  may seem, at times, as though you were fenced in, prohibited from choosing  any other road but the ones you have already traveled. Just keep in mind, that sometimes to get somewhere new, you have to hop a fence, or swim a river, or climb a mountain. There is a lot of work in making new roads. Think of new sights, smells, flavors, feelings, loves that you will never know until you build those roads.
“When all’s said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it’s not so much which road you take, as how you take it.” Charles de Lint (Celtic folk musician and story teller, b.1951)
No matter what road you have had the fortune, or misfortune, to travel, always there has been someone who walked the same road or a more difficult road. You are not in this world alone. No matter what the catastrophes and terrors and tragedy, there are many who have overcome these obstacles and lived triumphant afterward. Your road can be as new as your very next step. This life is full of another chance, and another, and another. The road you finally travel, is the road you CHOOSE to travel, and none of us has to walk alone.

“In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ “They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill. They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up. See, they will come from afar —some from the north, some from the west, some from the region of Aswan.” Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Your children hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.”  Isaiah 49: 8-17