The road is long, isn’t it? The road is long and wide and beat up and full of holes; big ones and little ones. Those holes rattle your cage, your frame and your very core.
Sometimes you can see what lies ahead. Sometimes you might not be so lucky. A bright light shines and you are blinded; you swerve to move out of the way of what may be obstructing your view. These are scary times but you are keeping yourself strong. It may kill you, this road you’re on, but you are certain to take in the best of it before you decide to give up. Giving up is not always an option.
It’s a ride fraught with obscure and dangerous signposts, ones that not even your worst enemy would care to unravel. But unravel you will and you are feeling confident as you drive past these obstacles that pop out of nowhere. You smile and yell into the abyss, to the nothingness, to bring it on. You’re a warrior now, a long-time rider, a suicide decliner, a strapping rail liner and nothing could be finer than that. And you drive; drive all day and all night, seeing the sights and listening to the music playing on the radio as you drive far, far away. You drive, navigating at the wheel. You sing those songs and smile and remember when you were young; you smiled for real back then. But you don’t remember, do you?
Your brain is now full of holes, big ones and little ones, just like the road you’re driving on. Things slip in and out of your memory, slip out of your mind. The past is in the rearview mirror and the ‘now ‘ is all that counts – the road ahead, the future we cannot see. The brain is full of things, obstacles and plaque, even though you brush your teeth. It doesn’t seem to matter if you floss or not. It is lost, it seems. Your brain, I mean, sometimes feels lost. Lost and afraid and angry and sad. And the sadness is deep like the holes in your brain, like the ones in the road, because nothing really makes sense and it’s one thing after another and another and another.
It’s all a mess and the signposts bring you down roads you’ve never been before, never travelled before and you’re old and so very, very tired of it all. There is no escaping it. It seems there are just more holes and when those holes wind their way around your brain you will be lost and gone forever and you will never know. You won’t know, you won’t be there to wave at yourself as you pass from one plane to another, from one dimension to another. You won’t see it because you will be unconscious of what fanfare may be there as you are alone with nobody by your side. You are alone, and alone you go, trying so hard not to cry, to not be afraid. But you are afraid; afraid of it all, afraid of nothing, afraid of everything. You’re afraid to put the brakes on for fear of straining your neck or your torso or your mind; afraid your mind will crack and explode onto the windshield.
And here we are once more, riding down a road less travelled, as they say. Literally, there are fewer and fewer people on the road and the ones that are on the road are maniacs, driving like they are racing to hell and back. No road leads anywhere in particular, as there is nothing to do or see. No friends to hang out with, no dinners, no sports events – just silence. Eerie silence, except for the guy in the truck, driving around the neighborhood, telling you to stay inside and to distance yourself; telling you he is grateful for your cooperation. So now what do you do?
You are alone, the elderly and the infirm at the hands of front line workers: nurses, orderlies, grocery clerks, police and fire. They are out there but you can’t see them because your car has been abandoned; like the elderly, alone at the side of the road less travelled. And by everyone these days, it seems. There is only the hush of empty buses and trains and essential workers going to work, frightened and alone. Alone. It keeps popping up in this piece because ultimately we are all alone and I suppose if you aren’t comfortable with being alone then this journey just got real.
The ride is long, isn’t it, and terribly rough. Your back hurts from sitting, your eyes are lost on all the things you never saw in your lifetime and yet you have seen everything now. Wild animals are walking the streets fearing nobody and we, the humans, cooped up in our own kind of zoos as the animals peer in at us from our front lawns and our balconies. We are hopeful though, hopeful that we will find a way to drive down this road without all the obstacles and signposts that keep us distracted from the real issues at hand. It never ends, does it? It will go on forever and we will be lucky to have been a part of it; part of the road less travelled.
We are resolute in our hopefulness that we will turn off this road and find peace within our world and within ourselves; that being alone will not be frighteningly horrific, but will let us see ourselves as we really are – human, in our togetherness and in our distance. We are human. We are hopeful warriors, aching to find a way back to ourselves, to each of our missions, whatever those missions are. The ride is long and it is fraught with danger. Yet we are not going to give up; we will soldier on and we will find the right road. Our minds will heal and the holes that we thought could never be filled will be filled with love and courage and the desire to live, to fight, to continue on. Even when it seems it is, and always will be, an endless fight.
Photos courtesy of Martha Farley – all rights reserved