Sunday, 18 August
Good Morning Jessicca…
A whistle trails the Amtrak’s passage through the still night of China Grove. Isolated pools shimmer on the wet street beneath the occasional overhead lamp. The traffic lights marking the center of town have no cause to change from persistent green. A woman in T-shirt and jeans leans against the café counter waiting for her oriental order to go. Four young people crowd around the cashier of the tobacco shop, stories swapped and laughter shared. The bearded old man guarding the sidewalk in a yachting cap calls out a warning of final reckoning for sinners like me. It’s Saturday night and we each are caught in the act of story-making our very own lives.
Imagine if I were to choose living life each day in the flesh, on the scene of each event and living all things with only first-hand experience. Imagine if I were to ignore all opportunities to resort to the printed wisdom of others for guidance. Imagine being able to decide my own course corrections on the basis of feeling the pain of my own mistakes. Imagine becoming comfortable with taking risks. Imagine controlling fear. Imagine each day a stage for unscripted action. Where will this road take me and who is it I will become following this path?
If you have only one thing to say then tell it to me. Tell it to everyone you feel needs to hear. You do have something to say. It has to do with what you know to be true. It is a truth you bring with you each day you show up for life. It is your personal conviction and you are bursting with the need to share it. Should it matter that I might think you to be horribly wrong? Speak your piece. I am simply someone other than you. I can air my truth just as well. Each of us now has something to consider from the other. We might find areas of agreement. We might become excited; astonished the other one of us could believe such thoughts. I study you. You carefully study me. We share the question, “Are you insane?”
Have you noticed how often reasonable people can find themselves in heated disagreement? Why is it two people’s careful reasoning can sometimes arrive at opposing conclusions? Of course, reasoning is a tool used to arrive at a logical explanation. It involves an orderly process of selecting what we consider to be the most significant facts in order to render a result most closely matching our personal view of reality. Our reality is built upon the experiences of our life – the accumulated lessons of our personal history. What could be more self-evidently true than what it is that has been taught us from our earliest days? These life history truths have become the very fabric of our own identity. Our most fundamental beliefs go beyond intellect and are grounded in feeling. Two people are more likely to find agreement if they share a background that is relevant to the development of their belief. People with diverse, or conflicting, backgrounds may well wonder at the reasonable basis of the other’s argument. Disagreement on an issue can be of such intensity that we each feel the other is attacking basic values that have guided our lives. Such disputes cannot help but become emotional.
There is a road that has been given our name and it is soon lost from view once it reaches beyond the crest of the nearest hill. Following this road we are frequently confronted by travelers whose own paths happen across ours at shared spaces in time. They each provide us with an opportunity to further define who it is we really are. Their own actions provide clues as to the possibilities of human nature. They test us to learn of our own potentials. Often it can be nothing more than a greeting exchanged or an annoyance conveyed. Occasionally the lessons are such that paths become intertwined. In these instances it can be said we have chosen the tests that determine the nature of our own character. Love of another can be its reward. Falling in love can be effortless. Maintaining love has to be one of our most difficult trials. There is probably no greater means for determining our own personal character.
We are strengthened by the love we convey. It survives us once we are gone.