Having arrived in Nova Scotia, I
was presented with a problem. Nova Scotia is pretty much the easternmost point
of North America for folks without a boat no more serious than a kayak. I had
run out of dirt and any further wanderings would thus be homeward.
Gazing out at the sea, there was of
course reflections on all the wonders the road had shown me over the past year.
But there was also the pressing question of what direction my toes should be
pointed. Freedom brings consternation unfamiliar to those of us who have spent
much of our lives freed from the decision about where we should go and what we
should do during our working days.
Since I wasn't late for a meeting,
I had the time to gaze some more and ask deeper questions like, "What is the
point of all this aimless wandering?"
Let's dispense with all the
romantic reasons popularized by folk songs. The road can be a lonely place
where your closest buddies are mosquitoes. Besides such blood brothers, I have
met some charming and inspiring people, folks I'll always remember. But they
are part of my education rather than the kinship I share with folks back
So the reason to wander boils down
to a dance where the objective is not to cross the dance floor as quickly as
possible. Not the clear, logical approach favored by engineers like me, but
more of a vague directive to be in the right place, and more importantly, to be
the right person when I get there.
Tramping through green swaths on my
map and communing with wild places is a good bet for a right place, but so is
the foot of a skyscraper with its majesty and marvel. Over the miles, I have
learned to listen to an inner voice pushing me in directions where I am likely
to encounter wonder. Almost like building a muscle through exercise, or perhaps
like a photographer grows an ability to see, to be awake to the compositions
around him, I feel roaming and exploring have become more than just verbs. They
have become a way to be.
This unexpected turn of events may
best be expressed in a warning from Bilbo Baggins, "There is only one Road. It
is like a giant river with springs at every doorstep. Going out of your door is
a dangerous business because you step onto the Road. If you don't keep your
feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."
Perhaps I have been swept away, but
as the year comes to a close, my river meanders westward, and I should be home
in time for Christmas pudding, with whatever presents the road has blessed