Thanks to modern technology, the miracle of the Internet and friends on Facebook, I have recently been able to hook back up with some folks that I haven’t seen since high school graduation…sometime back in the dark ages.
It’s been kinda cool to set and read their profiles…see the pictures of their families and sorta follow along with them on this journey called life. You know, just catch up with them in a sense.
Very recently I was engaged in a brief online discussion with one of the guys that I graduated with. I won’t share his name…I’ll protect his privacy. But I will share something that he wrote on my wall:
With my life style and responsibilities I wish I had done some things different. I have been working the same job since 1975. Working an average of 50 hours a week. Due to my job was not able to wander around the country and see all the lovely people and lovely sights. Who knows if I live long enough and my health holds up maybe that dream will come true as well.
Reading his post got me to thinking. Yah, I know thinking can be a bad thing for me, but I was doing some thinking. Reading his post, I almost get a sense of regret in his words. He seems to have some dissatisfaction in his voice…some disappointment that he didn’t take advantage of chances to travel. And that’s what got me to thinking some.
One of the poems I seem to remember from Ms. Zona Landis (English teacher) was written by Robert Frost. Here’s the pertinent part:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewehre 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.
Yep, when I graduated high school, I took the road less traveled. And it’s made all the difference in my life. I’ve seen people, places and things that many people never have the opportunity to see other than on the Travel Channel. I’m more familiar with Rome than Bath County — the county in Virginia in which I grew up.
I have over three thousand friends on Facebook, yet hardly any of them has known me more than five years.
I practically live my life out of a suitcase and a backpack yet don’t have most of the things that people my age are supposed to have collected by the time they hit mid-50s.
I can tell you the top five places to get the cheapest (and tastiest) meals in Times Square, Washington D.C. or St. Louis Missouri — but it’s been decades since I’ve sat and broken bread with anyone that knew me from “the hot”.
My hair is past my shoulders, and I wear two bracelets that were given to me by American Indian Medicine Men (a Cherokee in Oklahoma and a Choctaw in Mississippi); yet I don’t have anyone who cares enough to tell me when I look a little rough — or when I look good.
I did a cross-country, solo, unsupported, bicycle trip this year that ended in Louisana when I had a blow out on the front tire. I spent three days in the Veterans Hospital in Shreveport, LA — yet didn’t have anyone at “home” to call and let them know what had happened.
I was recently on the stage with Elton John and Leon Russell (photographing, NOT SINGING) — yet didn’t have anyone in the audience that I could set and enjoy the show with.
Now Christmas time is almost here. I’ve got choices to make: I can go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina…Charleston in South Carolina or Santa Fe in New Mexico. Regardless of which destination I choose, I’ll be waking up alone on Christmas morning, grabbing the camera and wandering the streets to get some holiday shots — again, by myself.
And when New Years Eve rolls around, I might be in Virginia Beach, Key West Florida or New Orleans. But when the clock strikes midnight, I won’t have anyone special to kiss or to shout “HAPPY NEW YEARS” to over the din of the crowd.
Now, if you think I’m feeling disappointment and regret — I’m not. I enjoy my life. I enjoy the freedom of being able come and go when and where I want. I enjoy being able to sleep till noon if I’ve had a rough shoot the night before — or get up at 3am to wander the streets after a summer thunderstorm seeking out those marvelous images that come only after a rain.
I enjoy knowing that I can pick up my camera gear and head out on the open road knowing that I can make a living in almost any town I find myself landing. I am free to leave Asheville any day and return any day — or not return at all.
I don’t have a house payment, a car payment, medical bills or poor health to tie me down. The open road is my home and I’ve learned to make myself comfortable in my home. I’m not saying that my life is better than — or worse than — the lives of anyone I went to high school with. It’s just the life I’ve led and it’s come from:
Taking the road less traveled.