“I’ve got my ticket for the long way ’round,
The one with the prettiest view.
It’s got mountains, it’s got rivers,
It’s got woods that’ll give you shivers
But it sure would be prettier with you.”
~ When I’m Gone, lyrics by A.P. Carter and Luisa Gerstein
Sometimes even when I know where I’m going, I lose my way. There is a certain degree of anxiety involved in the realization that I am suddenly not where I expected to be. Unfamiliar sights, foreign landscape, lost sense of direction… The trick, I have learned, is not to panic, not to lose myself. I might have forgotten that at times during the past couple of months…
I remember riding with my dad when I was a child, before the days of electronic GPS. Occasionally, the folded map or the handwritten directions would fail us (or, perhaps more correctly, we would fail them), and we would find ourselves on unfamiliar roads, in unfamiliar territory. Lost. We would find ourselves in a place my father euphemistically called “the scenic route”.
My father’s perspective – perhaps entirely for my benefit – was almost always a positive one: Yes, this detour meant we were going to arrive at our chosen destination later than we’d planned, and yes, we now had to pay even greater attention to the route we were on in order to actually reach our goal, but eventually we’d get there. And we might even see some interesting things along the way. We’d definitely learn something important about Where We Are (and maybe even about Who We Are) that we didn’t know before.
And all of this new knowledge? If we were smart, it would stand us well as we traveled any future roads. We. The two of us. Because even though he was the one driving, we were traveling together.
Today we find ourselves staring ahead at an unfamiliar political landscape. For most of us, we didn’t intend to be here, and we might not be sure we ever wanted to be close to where we’ve gotten. But this is the road we’re on. Are we lost? Perhaps. But the trick is still not to panic. We are resilient, and we can still get where we are going. We are together – all of us – and taking the long way ’round doesn’t deter us from our goal.
We’re not walking a straight path anymore. (That we ever were was an illusion, anyway.) We’ve got mountains to climb and rivers to cross; and navigating these woods definitely gives me shivers. But it sure is prettier with you.