Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back Roads and Life Lessons

Photo courtesy of "Traveler On the Backroads" 

I wrote a brilliant post last night which was inspired by this photograph. Somehow, between "Publishing" and "Posting" it got lost in the ether.  So, now it is morning, I have fresh, hot coffee, and I'm attempting to resurrect a bit of last night's wit and genius.  I may not recapture the exact phrasing, but I think I've been able to express my overall train of thought. 

Life lessons and back roads.


I've lived in many different places over the years.  Some were good, some were great, and some were downright atrocious (Arkansas comes to mind immediately!).  Through it all, I've always retained my love for rural Virginia.  I'm originally from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and if I were a Theist I'd call it "God's Country".   For various reasons, I've moved away and come back home several times in my adult life.  I've never really been happy living anywhere else but here (Boston was a close second.).  Each time I moved somewhere outside of Virginia, I felt extreme homesickness.  At first I thought it was just an adjustment period.  When it didn't pass, I knew deep in my heart that I was longing to be home again.  I'd move home and be oh so happy, then fall into complacency and begin to take everything for granted.  Life would happen and I'd find a new adventure to carry me away again.  The last time I went on a "Grand Life Adventure" was 2009.  I won't get into the details here and now (maybe another day) but I will say that I moved from a rural area of the Shenandoah Valley to the suburbs of Little Rock, Arkansas.  Ugh.  I had lived in the mid-west back in the late 80s up in Kansas City and HATED IT.  Perhaps time erases some of those memories or perhaps I was just blinded by love.  Whatever the case, I KNEW BETTER and did it anyway.  I had multiple alarm bells going off in my head but I pushed them aside, buried them, and continued on in my blind pursuits. While I was in Arkansas, I was happy for the first three months and miserable for the last 14 months.  When the relationship tanked, I became insanely homesick.  I cried buckets of tears of Virginia.  It was so bad that when I watched Virginia Tech college football, I'd gaze at the screen hoping and waiting for the camera to pan up for a shot of the mountains.  I'd watch YouTube videos see video here of the Valley and break down sobbing.  I knew then that it was time to go home.  I'd taken for granted all the wonderful beautiful things I had grown to love about my home.  The changing of the seasons, the friendliness of the people, the local markets and shops, the smell of the earth after it rained, snow, winter, see video here wood stoves, history, the mountains.  All these things made me immensely happy and I didn't realize how much they truly meant to me.  

While I was in Arkansas, one of my hobbies was doing my family genealogy.  I got very involved in it and enjoyed looking up my heritage. I learned a lot about both sides of my family.  I was sad because I wanted to go to all the places where my family had lived, loved, and died.  I found out we even have our own mountain and cemetery in West Virginia.  (Scott Mountain if ya must know.)  

So now that I'm home, I've vowed to appreciate everything around me and to NEVER take anything about Virginia, or my life, for granted ever again.  Also, I've promised to always be true to myself.  I will never compromise who I am, what I believe, how I feel, or the way I dress, talk, worship, or vote.

I try to view everything in life as a learning experience and to take life lessons from each event.  The lessons I learned while living in Arkansas were as follows:

1.  Never EVER ignore your intuition.  If you hear warning bells, STOP.  Think. Re-evaluate.

2.  Never compromise who you are for ANYONE.  It's akin to selling your soul.  Actually, that's just what it is.

3.  Treasure your home, your ancestry, your customs, your traditions.  Be proud of who you are and where you come from.  (I fought this for many years but I am now proud to say I am a Daughter of Appalachia!  More on that later, perhaps its own blog post?)

4.  Speak your mind.  You don't have to be hateful or rude, but always be honest.  Don't suppress things that hurt you or bother you.  If you're unhappy, say so.  I wasted too much time trying to pretend I was happy when I knew I wasn't.

5.  Family is everything.  Love them and cherish them while they are here.

6.  Take NOTHING  for granted.  Ever.  I mean NEVER.  


Back roads are like the veins that carry my life blood.  Back roads represent everything that is pure and good and honest.  Back roads are my Broadway, my Beale Street, my Ventura Boulevard.  There is kindness to be found on a back road.  There's a spiritual connection with Nature to be found on a back road. 

Imagine you're walking down a country lane.  It has recently rained and there's a nice breeze blowing. The wildflowers on the sides of the road sway in the wind.  The flowers are an explosion of yellow, purple, blue, and fuchsia. You can smell the rich aroma of dark damp earth.  A butterfly flutters in front of you.  Birds sing in nearby trees.  The sun comes out and caresses your face.  The gravels crunch with each step you take.  Are you there?  Can you feel it?  These are things that move my soul.

Whenever I'm faced with a choice of taking the Interstate or taking a back road, I will choose the back road every time.

So today, I challenge you:  Take a detour.  Go smell the flowers, literally.  Find your own back road and savor it.  

Blessed Be to all.