After quietly listening this past weekend to my son and sister-in-law debate better, faster routes through the city for several minutes I said, “I can’t imagine living anywhere that people talk more about streets and highways than each other.”
This stopped the conversation, and the car remained silent for the rest of our drive.
So that was it? Their most important conversation consisted of whether 290 was faster than some other road, how to get to 610, or which exit would be less congested than another?
Evidently. With no more words forthcoming, nor any laughter at my observation it became sadly apparent to me that people hide from each other behind the trivial. It is so much easier to talk about the objective or inanimate than what we think or need. About our hearts. Our souls.
I moved to a smaller town a year ago and immediately felt the non-claustrophobic closeness, that it would matter to me if someone preferred a balsam tree to a spruce. I really do not care how I get anywhere so long as I do eventually get there, and whatever I encounter along the way though it may be frustratingly slow or congested gives me opportunity to hone my maneuvering skills or think about comments someone made, a friendly conversation, or simply to notice wildflowers that might be growing on the roadside. No one here I find is the least bit concerned about speaking their mind, or giving an opinion solicited or not, or simply pontificating on the virtues of Florida oranges over California ones. If I miss a church service and happen on a friend later that week they wonder how I am, where I’ve been.
I have heard people comment or complain about a new road being built and the trees they took out for it, or some landmark now gone and that it was where their grandfathers greeted each other of a Saturday afternoon, on the porch or over a woodstove. But not about travel routes. People here are not afraid they might impose if they show that they care.
We each make our own way in this life and hopefully help each other. Our strengths and vulnerabilities make us who we are, not what we do or how we get there. We share our stories and laugh at our foibles. But which highway or short-cut does not matter.
The journey is not about the conveyance but we who convey.