There it is. I can see it. On the other side of the windshield there is highway ahead of me. Through three small mirrors I can make out what I’ve passed and what’s coming up behind me. Less than two weeks away from my thirty-fourth birthday, my second without my father, and I’m returning from a trip to be with my mother who has just had heart surgery. Did I come close to losing her? I can’t be sure but she seems well now. She is at home.
It was late. We had waited until my son’s bedtime to leave so that he would sleep the whole way home. My wife napped on and off while I listened to my favorite rock and roll channeled directly to the earbuds tucked tightly in my sound holes. The Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, Stone Temple Pilots and Warren Haynes drove my mind as I drove the car toward home. The reflection in one of the three mirrors showed glimpses of my son’s face lit by the passing lights. As I stared at the road ahead I thought about a lot of things: my mother, my wife and son, my father, my friends and my family.
I continued to follow the lines leading south as if on autopilot. All the while thinking of my life and things I could see in the other two mirrors fleeting and slowly approaching. Headlights, from behind me in the distance, crept up and were beginning to get close. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear and can be a distraction; drawing focus from what is ahead, they suffocate my thoughts like the heart disease and cancer that run in my family.
Very few men in my family make it out of their sixties. My father died at 65 and his parents passed when they were even younger. I try to live a fairly healthy life, fairly, but it seems that what is good for the soul is very seldom good for the heart. This possible expiration time frame weighs heavily on my mind. There is so much that I want and need to do before then. Fear is a power motivator. The fear of failure is one of the things that pushes me every day. I’m afraid of what will happen if I can’t provide for my family. I’m afraid of what will happen if I am a disappointment to the people I love. I’m afraid that I don’t know where the road is taking me.
It doesn’t matter what road I’m on or how many times I’ve traveled it. Where I am right now is specific to me and no one else. This is true for everyone. My thoughts as I read road signs and cautions are different than even those of the people who are with me. We share experiences but the memories of those things are not the same. Many elements are identical but the differences in perception and how we deal with the minutia show our truths. The miles traveled can’t predict the miles ahead.
Lines on the road and time ticked away as I drove toward Pensacola. I’m doing what I can to get to a goal that I don’t understand. The cliché says that the means justify the end but what happens when the end is a question mark? I’m working on a master’s degree, in part, to help combat my fears. I will use it as a tool, part of a set, to help me get to where I should go. That last fear, not knowing where the road is taking me, will be my shoes.
Finally, as one day turned into the next, we pulled into the driveway. My head full of caffeine, stomach full of doubt and wired on rock and roll I settled in and began to write. I think that this is what will take me to where I am supposed to be.