the resentful road
(originally posted 1/23/2013)
Sometimes I feel like part of a road. Not in the sense of being free and able to travel anywhere I want but literally like a one foot by one foot square piece of cement, stuck forever in the same spot. That’s the irony of feeling like that, you can romanticize the road all you want but in reality the actual road isn’t going anywhere. It’s made up of millions of chunks of asphalt stuck in the same spot. In the big picture the road stretches off into the distance, a distance that could hold adventure and drama, heartache or triumph, but the reality of the whole thing is that each piece of that road is right where it will always be.
Sometimes it’s even worse and I feel like a one foot by one foot chunk of pavement on a road that was never finished. An off-ramp to somewhere that was never completed so the road sits there unused. Even the term unused becomes ironic because when you’re being used to help people get from one spot to another you end up feeling used but the only thing worse than being used is not being used.
Does the asphalt on the abandoned off-ramp to nowhere sit and feel envy at the resentment of the heavily traveled road next to it? Not enjoying the sun when it shines but instead waiting for the first blade of grass to heroically make its way through the cracks and add the final indignation to the once-hopeful piece of highway material.
Every time I back out of my driveway I really do take a minute and in my mind’s eye picture the street I’m on leading away from where I’m at now and taking me to Las Vegas or New York or Los Angeles or Idaho. The oddest thing is that it really does. I could pull out and get wherever I wanted to go. Then I usually feel the same crushing blow to my psyche when I accept the fact that instead I’m going to Home Depot or McDonalds. That’s where I want to go… and yet if I were to really think about it it would be the last place I wanted to go. Arriving home no better than when I left.
So I’m always moving on that road under me but I’m never going anywhere either. I wonder if the road looks up and says “Really? That’s where you’re headed today? This is what’s so important you get in your car and drive? If I were you I’d really go somewhere”? Maybe that’s why it feels such resentment. Not that it is being used by people, but that it’s being used so pointlessly. I’m sure it would feel better if it knew it was helping someone achieve something worthwhile, but instead it just bears the weight of endless pointless movement.
The way a fin would feel on a fish that spends its life treading water.
Maybe that explains why I backed up the car onto an unused piece of highway the other day. I drove up and down the ramp to nowhere and gave the pavement a chance to feel the healthy resentment of a truly pointless act. From the air it probably looked like the act of a crazy person but somehow it was the most constructive driving I’ve done in a long time. The I got out of the car and laid down in the middle of the road. It was perfectly safe but it still gave me a rush to lay down where I was always told never to lay down. It felt so dangerous and unnatural but after awhile it was nice. Eventually I even felt a bit poured. Laying next to my cement brothers, frozen together in the same spot.
Nowhere to go.
Then I heard a whisper from the blacktop reminding me that each part of the universe tells us about the entire universe.
Then another that suggested perhaps sometimes it’s best not to finish every thought you have…