Make your own rules or be a slave to another man’s.” ― William Blake
There is a song on Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time“ album called “The Road’s My Middle Name”; it journals the joy and difficulty of a musician’s life on the road. I like this song because as I work and travel the state of Oklahoma it tells my story also. Back when I worked for Random House Publishing I traveled five states. I remember waking up one morning in yet another motel, and for a while I genuinely had no idea where I was. Finally I recalled that I was in exotic Camden Arkansas; I turned over and went back to sleep. Well-meaning friends and family member ask with concern “Don’t you want to find a job that doesn’t require travel?” What they don’t know, is that I not only love the freedom being on the road affords me, but I love the sights and the seclusion.
I’ve stood on the mountainside outside a tiny elementary school in Brushy Oklahoma, listened to kids on the playground and looked down the hillside at a magnificent stand of red and golden trees as fall leaves topple down the hillside. And, I swear I can actually see the hot harsh central Oklahoma wind on that stretch between Okarche and Kingfisher as the shafts of wheat wave back and forth on late spring days. Driving from Sand Springs to Enid on highway 412 I stop the car by the lake, roll down the windows and let the smells-and the allergens come on in. I pay for this later, totally. Working in an office I would see no horses and colts grazing in the spring, no cattle going to feed in the late afternoon, no buffalo actually roaming, no lamas and farm dogs. And I would miss the most beautiful sunsets anywhere.
The other thing I love about being on the road is enough time and quiet for contemplation. God will always speak to you if you actively listen and focus so you can see what you are being shown. Last week I came upon an eighteen wheeler headed east to Tulsa. It was pulling an unusually long flatbed that seemed to be carrying stacks of something like roofing shingles in flat packages. At first I hardly noticed the flatbed, the packages it carried only stood up a foot or so. But as I drove closer I saw that it was no ordinary load this trucker was carrying. You could see the pride he had in it before you even got close. Right in the middle of the flatbed was a brand new small shiny blue bicycle, the streamers on the handlebars riding high in the wind and the glittered fenders sparkling like crazy in the sunlight. He placed this tiny bike right in the middle of that huge flatbed and tethered it down on both sides; the bike was so small that it would have easily fit inside the cab. But no, this trucker wanted to make a proud statement and a treasured child would see immediately how important she was to the gift giver!
To the degree that we can, we should cut our own paths through this life; make conscious choices born of intention instead of fear. Boldness sure doesn’t come easily for this introvert, but shyness is such a sad place to reside! My niece Jessica took me to the Ballet recently. In amazement we watched a petite ballerina fly through the air as she was tossed back and forth by two male leads in the dance. She had faith in them! They made difficult maneuvers look simple because of her boldness.
“The key to happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have and the ones you don’t.” –Abraham Verghese, “Cutting for Stone”