Fabulous fireworks they were not! Here we’d sat for hours watching skiers on the lake and toddlers waddle through the park just out of reach of parent’s hand. My oldest son, Gabriel, his girlfriend and I lounged atop a picnic table, belly’s full from his birthday dinner, all of us talking and laughing and waiting for the grand event. The crowd murmured as the distant flames barely rose beyond the tree tops. Just like many expectations, ours weren’t met.
Gabe was the most disappointed of the three of us, probably because celebrating the 4th coincides with his birthday on the 5th. The booming fireworks of 1993 snapped him to attention while he was still in my tummy and incited my labor. Maybe he has a distant memory of the magnificence of birth associated with the flares. Who knows. I do know he always expects fireworks to light up the sky, making the crowd ooh and ahh.
Anticipation is natural as we wait for something to happen we are looking forward to whether it’s meeting up with friends, shaking it up at a country concert or presenting our first speech in front of our colleagues, but if our happiness while we wait is determined only by the outcome of the event meeting our expectations, we miss the point. Even more importantly, we miss our life.
“Life is a Highway,” according to Cochrane’s song, and I believe it is. We know our ultimate destination, but we stop at the rest stops to rejuvenate when we need to stretch, we grab a burger at a dinner when we get hungry and rent a room with a bed when we tire. But if we just bust-ass down the road to get where we’re going, we miss the entire experience of the ride.
We miss the scenery and the excursions where people and circumstances find us serendipitously. We miss the pleasure of spontaneously loosening the grip on the reins and letting our intuition veer off course a bit. The trip becomes like the blurry fields and buildings on a normal ride to work every day.
I’m not suggesting we all just let go of those reigns. That would be dangerous and there’s enough reckless driver’s out there, but I am advocating loosening the reigns enough to permit adventure and intrigue to find us.
I’d considered going to Myrtle Beach after leaving Gabe’s since he lives only a few hours away from there, but the beach wasn’t calling me. The monks were. I ended up at a monastery retreat which was booked when I checked last week, but with a last-minute cancellation, I recognized my blessing, loosened the expectation to stroll the beach just because the multitudes felt the need to, and trotted into Mepkin Abbey.
This summer as you head out on vacation, don’t forget to take the road less traveled every now and then and explore along the way. Happy trails!
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio. Access more at soundcloud.com\lifespeaks.