The old truism goes that confession is good for the soul. I’m not sure if when I have the sort of internal dialog that could be considered confession, I talk to my soul, though. It does sometimes do me good. I talk to myself about my stupidity, failures, and the roads not taken. It’s those darn roads not taken that are the real irritant.
One time I was offered entrance to an expensive college by one of the deans. Despite being a high school dropout, he, and his wife, thought I had the potential to make something of myself. I was too taken with being a coffeehouse folk musician to see where any other future lay. Then there was the apprenticeship to a master carver and engraver that I turned down because it would mean showing up every day at eight AM and interfering with traveling. I won’t go into the romantic misfires, miscues, and mistakes.
So I often find myself, while driving on long trips, beating these recollections back into the background where they belong. After all, I eventually found my way to college, developed as a carver in my own right, and my wife and I have raised four fantastic young adults.
So why the periodic sojourns into paths that I never took? What am I looking to find?
The worst of this rumination comes on those long treks from distant places when I find myself driving through areas of the east that I vaguely remember from some stop in 1967. Or worse, I pass some town that I know I’ve never visited and wonder why in all my wandering, I avoided it.
It seems that the confessional exposes are linked with travel, and just as I travel along the road in distance, I also travel along the roads in time. The highways offer off-ramps, and I could drop into nearly familiar all-night dinners and meet with people that I almost recollect. But I don’t.
Sometimes I fear what would happen if the off-ramps allowed me to leave the highway and drop into those places and times I avoided.
I’m invested in who I am and what I have, and I’m not interested in the past that much. If the past were a tide washing toward me, I’d run as fast as possible away.