My tattered United States paper map is notable for the lurid green-inked loop of a line that connects the cities I had marked with orange, magenta or purple polka dots last fall. Orange & magenta dots were for the cities of friends and family, purple ones for historical or architectural interests. I wish though that I had an infinitely dimensional map that would show the elevations, the storms, the locals, the architecture, the passing of time, the change in my photographer’s eye, the muscles in my legs and the lilt of my heart. The sky would have to be there too: the wide-open west and the scrunched up eastern sky viewed from the edges of treetops. My smile too.
For all of you who have followed the blog with unwavering dedication or even tuned in on some erratic schedule, you are also on that infinitely dimensional map. As I began writing the blog a dear friend said, “It’s funny how you can know someone for so many years and yet when you read something they have written, a whole new dimension to their personality emerges.” It is even funnier when you yourself find a whole new personality in yourself. I feel like my soul, my humor, my worth, and my world stretched like a rubbery map these past seven months. Life just looks different from this end of the trip on the edge of the sea from the same sea where it started.
Driving the windy roads of West Virginia I slowed to cross a narrow old lovely cement bridge. A little gathering of people leaned over the railing in the middle of the bridge. I slowed even more wondering what they were watching, when a puff of white lifted from the hands of one man swirling in the breeze lifting up from the river. Then I noticed the clothes, the clutch of roses in the woman’s hand and the emotional faces. Lucky man I thought. I wonder if he fished this river. He surely lived near it and loved it. Within a few miles I passed a sign. “Party!!!” Up the hill a small yard was surrounded with balloons and banners, tables gaily arrayed and loaded, a child’s birthday. On my paper map this bittersweet ending and this joyful beginning, both celebrations, happen in a dot of road line.
As I wandered with pup along the ocean in the past few days I began the trip again in my head. If a dot of road line held significance, the square of each day on my calendar had been imprinted with images and scribbled with notes. Faces, birds, stars, chilly temperatures, new friends, weary driving days, old buildings, little towns holding on, books, photo ops, and odd signs. Some days the squares were black with images and ink. The blog helped parse out the meaning of those days. The photos helped frame what appeared worth noting. “I’m traveling with you,” many of you said. Thank you all for keeping company vicariously. Your company was appreciated.
For all of you who are younger than I, don’t despair if life is not lining up just like you would wish. You have time, so much time. You can’t see any farther ahead on your mapped out life, than I can. Take a few chances, be kind and expect kindness, be honest, love well, and be happy. Slow down and listen. Take your eyes off the map. Look about. Life is good.
(More tales to follow... off the map. See you there.)