Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Yesterday, I was up and on the road by 4, and I arrived at my friend's house at 1:45.  Even with some stop and go, rush hour traffic around Jacksonville, it was a delightfully easy trip.  It is very strange to travel north in January and to get out of the car to discover that the weather is just as balmy in South Carolina as it was when I left South Florida.  I saw red bud trees along the way that are already starting to flower, and it's much too early.

Or maybe it's not.  Maybe this weather is the new normal.  Or maybe the trees have adapted to the fact that we can't trust past weather to predict the weather now.

As I drove, I was intrigued to watch my thoughts.  You would think I'd be having contemplative thoughts as I drove to the first of my onground intensives for my certificate program in spiritual direction.  Perhaps you imagine hour after hour of prayer.

Alas, no.  For much of the trip, I found my thoughts circling back to work.  I thought about creating some sort of poem that linked runaway slaves to how hard it is to get away from modern work, but I'm not sure I can pull that off.  I always have the history of the nation on my mind as I drive through the U.S. South, especially during foggy mornings like yesterday.

I listened to the radio for much of the trip.  When John Cougar Mellancamp's "Jack and Diane" came on, I thought of Sandy Longhorn's recent pair of poems that imagines both Diane and Beth (of the KISS song) grown up.

I also thought about the decisions we make in late adolescence and how they feel so fraught--one wrong move, and we're doomed.  Date the wrong person, have unprotected sex which immediately leads to pregnancy, choose the wrong college, take the wrong high school classes--those are my memories of high school conversations in the 1980's. 

When do we get to a point where our choices don't seem so fraught?  I feel like I'm having similarly weighted conversations today:  will this job last me until retirement?  At what point should I sell the house?  Is it too late to have the kind of life I've always wanted?

Of course, maybe it's just me feeling the weight of my decisions throughout my life trajectory.  I imagine me 20 years from now, in an older and wiser place, seeing that all my decisions weren't so weighty, that all along I was moving towards where I needed to be, even if I couldn't see it at the time.

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