“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is a tradition in Judaism – guests visiting the graves place a stone on top. No one really has an answer why it is done – some say it is in lieu of flowers, some say to ward off any spirits…whatever. I see the stones as a symbol of the weight we carry with us.
We start off on a road, each of us alone in pursuit of some meaning, some story of a life to one day tell the grandchildren in hopes they will find some meaning in the life we led. We walk, there are exits, merges and traffic of all sorts. We keep “our eye on the road and our hands upon the wheel.” Looking ahead but sometimes swerving while staring too long into the rear view mirror. We find ourselves obsessed with that view and end up bumping and crashing from time to time. We fall but we get up. Its human nature the instinct to survive to overcome the obstacles and to find our way.
Some choose the usual road maps laid out for them by others. Some choose the roads less traveled. Some create their own paths and open up the choices for others who may follow.
Some come to forks in the road and cannot make a choice which way to go…so they look to the crowd and follow the masses. Others take the road less chosen for that reason alone and end up lost and wondering how to get back.
On the road we meet people in traffic – we exchange hugs, kisses, promises and sing songs together. Songs written in words we express silently but are unable or unwilling to fully admit to those feelings inside.
Some walk in neon while others walk in black.
Some wander aimlessly and others walk with purpose.
Some tend to live life in a transparent manner while others are enclosed within the layers they have collected.
A stone is picked up as a commemoration to a lie told or a kiss betrayed.
A stone is thrust into ones hands and then the giver disappears as if they never truly existed.
“But there are photographs of them ghosts, photographs of the ones who left without warning and without a sign. Them photos are etched into our minds, hearts and visions in the night. I can sometimes see ’em when I close my eyes…the tears just help them to focus and see with more clarity what I fear to see. To feel what I fear to feel…There are voices and visuals and they are proof that there is something that has been lost, stolen, taken away.”
The road is ascending towards a ramp that is unusually on the left hand side of the road. The exit sign is non-existent but the exit is in plain site. It leads to a river and it is only flowing in the one direction, as river do. No going back no way to go back.
There once was an entrance but now all we see are the exits…No way back. Into the river we are thrust as the rapids flow rapidly – we find ourselves drowning drowningly – our stones, our rocks pulling us down…
A gasp, a branch a wild movement and a strangers hand…alive…on dry land. In the distance I hear a train rolling on by, the rapids behind me with the highway alive with lights and activity in clear view across the river.
As the sun goes down I pull on my coat and I walk towards the East.
As I limp towards the rising sun the next morning I think about those miles behind me and the stones I lost in the river and left under the tree…
“The miles, the traffic and the rocks and the rolls of the hills I have climbed…they are behind me now. Ahead the sun is lifting its face upon this land – and it is on this land that I will cease this senseless running.”