I had been out of sorts all weekend and now I was stepping off a flight, still in a funk.
I’d been in this airport before; it was familiar though not the least bit comforting.
It was barely October but the northeastern air was cold as I exited the terminal toward the rental cars. “At least I know my way around” I thought as I trudged in that direction, pulling luggage and balancing a heavy computer bag on my shoulder.
I settled into a sedan and drove away from the airport, remembering the first time I flew into Manchester. That time, the luck of the rental car line-up afforded me a Mustang convertible. I had put the top down in spite of the chilly temperatures.
One wrong turn transported me into a fragrant forest of trees. Realizing that I must be off course, I navigated onto a side road to turn around. The sound of the gravel under those tires and the earthy scent of the trees reminded me of places I love. Even now, the memory calmed my heavy heart a bit.
I passed the spot of the errant turn and smiled to myself. Maybe a cup of coffee would perk me up, I thought. I spotted a new Dunkin’ Donuts just before I reached the on ramp for the interstate; in just a few minutes I had a steaming cup and was on my way to the hotel that would once again be home for the week.
After a quick call to let my hubby know I was bound for my destination, I reflected in silence as I drove the mostly deserted highway.
I’m too old for this.
I am too tired for this.
I can’t do this.
I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I recited a litany of reasons and excuses – all well-rehearsed over the past few days. Weariness set in as I sipped my coffee and focused on the road.
I had forgotten the natural beauty of the drive south toward Boston. It was overcast, but even under gray skies the glorious colors of fall brightened the landscape. The birch trees stood tall, their white bark like dress whites crowned with colorful leaves.
I noted one of those highway signs that marks a famous landmark. Robert Frost Farm. The client had mentioned it on my last trip and suggested it might be worthwhile to stop and explore on my return to the airport. Ever the worried traveler, I didn’t dare risk missing my outbound flight.
But now I was in no great hurry to reach an empty hotel room. There was no mystery or excitement or even concern about finding it. I’d stayed there before and it was just the standard place to rest after a long day.
Only days before an Amazon box awaited my arrival home after work. I opened it with curiosity, since I didn’t recall ordering anything. To my great delight, my sweet hubby had ordered a stack of books recommended for writers! Among them was Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott. And so I had just read and underlined these words:
“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things,
to go places and explore.”
“I’m a writer”. I had only recently mustered the courage to make that declaration and in the moment I felt a fresh determination to walk in that. I took the exit and navigated to the tiny, unassuming farm.
I shivered as I exited the car and approached the barn. A lone man sat just inside. After greeting me, he quietly waited as I explored the artifacts and books displayed.
“Would you like to view the video and tour the home?” I hesitated only a moment. Writing was a great excuse to explore this place that had inspired Frost to write. For the next half hour, I settled under an afghan on a rough wooden bench and watched a poor quality film about the life of one of America’s most beloved poets.
I toured the home; the simple farmhouse was anything but inspiring, but as I peeked out windows and imagined life there in the early 1900’s, I realized that inspiration comes in the ordinary moments of everyday life.
I purchased a small paperback collection of Frost’s poems, said goodbye to my tour guide and walked the grounds, collecting damp leaves as I wandered. The question hung in my heart and mind. “What am I doing here?”
There was small stone wall; I stopped to rest a bit despite the chill. Opening the small book, I found Frost’s famous words:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.[i]
Frost’s reference to a road less traveled reminded me of the words of another who had this to say about choosing a path:
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road
that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life,
and only a few find it. ~ Jesus, Matthew 7:13-14
That chilly afternoon, I realized that I choose a path every day.
The wide road is so appealing. I want easy. I long for wide lanes and smooth terrain. I stand at the fork and want to choose for my comfort, for my peace and for my convenience. Me, me, me.
I lingered for a bit, considering the week before me. It was not the road I wanted to choose. It was hard; it was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But it was ordained. It would stretch me and at the end of it, I would be spent. And that is exactly the way I long to live: poured out and used up for the reasons I am alive – to love God and to share his love with others.
I stood and walked back to the car, my steps lighter. I breathed the autumn air deeply and paused again to look back at the homestead.
It was going to be a great week. I was sure of it.
Navigating the road less traveled,
[i] The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost
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