My family and I took a long trip over the weekend, long being a drive of nearly an hour and a half. Those who have kids understand that five minutes in the car with them can at times be too much. There is crying and complaining, spills and messes, and a seemingly endless chorus of “Are we there yet?” and “How much farther?”
That was our ride.
And this even with all the newfangled trinkets designed to make an hour and a half ride more comfortable. Things like DS games and DVD players. These things do well and good so long as they remain charged and the headaches do not start, which, in our case, lasted a grand total of forty minutes.
With aspirin handed out and the radio turned down, all that was left were those old fashioned games that helped me through some long rides of my own once upon a time. There was the ever-popular I Spy game, won by my son. My daughter won the out of state license plate game. They each tied at seven playing the game where you get the truckers to blow their horns.
But even after all that, there was still a half hour’s worth of driving to go. With the DS games dead, the DVD players on life support, and the radio station that seemed incapable of playing nothing but Van Halen’s “Panama,” there was nothing for us to do but wait.
“Won’t be long,” I promised. “We’ll get there soon enough.”
I knew that wasn’t exactly right. And I’ll say that while I said it, I was thinking of the drive back. Of going back there and getting out of that cramped car. Unbuckling my belt and stretching my legs and looking at the sun and hearing it welcome me home.
I’ve heard that life is all about the journey. The destination is not just irrelevant, it spoils all the fun. Sounds like a romantic notion. And just as most romantic notions, that one’s just plain ridiculous. What’s the use in going if you have nowhere to go? Why start when there is no end?
As I drove, road leading toward a horizon that only yielded more road, I decided there was also something else that could be described as a journey rather than a destination.
My sour attitude didn’t last long. And of course I don’t want to imply that spending ninety minutes in the car with my family was hellish. It was not. It only seemed that way for a bit.
But after that bit I began to realize how apropos our drive was to life itself. Because to a certain extent we are all on a road. There are dips and curves, mountains and valleys. There are times when extreme concentration is necessary and times when everything seems flat and boring. Regardless, the point is to keep going. There is no heading back, not for any of us. The road is forward. It always shall be.
We have company along the way. Family and loved ones that sometimes get on our nerves but most times we know we could never live without. They are with us and we them, even though each has his or her own vantage point, his or her own place.
There are others too, sharing a bit of the road with us while we travel. Some pull alongside for a long while and become familiar. Others are there and then gone, never to be seen again. It’s a big road, life, and we all go at our own pace. Some are in a hurry and others take their time. But regardless, we all will reach The End someday.
The End. Oh yes. Because while the road may be wide and long, there is no room for existential thoughts of a journey without a destination. We may be given the freedom to ride as we wish, to be cautious or not, to ride with the windows down or rolled up tight, but that freedom ends there. We were not given the choice to be upon this road, and we are not given the choice to stay upon it.
And if that causes us grief, I say it shouldn’t. I say I look forward to that day when my ride is done. When I can unbuckle my seatbelt and step outside. I will stretch my legs and stare at the Son, and He will say welcome home.