363 – December 29
“The life of man is a journey, a journey that must be traveled, however bad the roads or the accommodations.”—Oliver Goldsmith
As a teacher, I try to act as a signpost to others, pointing the way down the road to success. But sometimes as I lecture, I know I’m the one I’m talking to. “Oh yeah, that’s a good idea, Chellie; why aren’t you doing that?!” says the voice in my head. I know that people point to leaders and teachers, whispering that they’re “not walking their talk” and I quail when I know I don’t always walk mine. But I only learn to walk it after I talk it for a while and watch myself fail to connect, to measure up, to succeed at what I know I should do, what St. Chellie would do without blinking or thinking twice.
Talking with my friend Korey, I agonized over the road I have taken and how many foibles and failures marked the way. I regretted the many times I strayed from the road I knew to be straight and true, the path to health and well-being, to financial success, loving relationships, spiritual peace.
“Why did I leave the road so many times?” I moaned.
“You were still on the road, Chellie,” she told me. “You were just in the shitty part of it.”
I still laugh over that description, but with that one sentence, she changed my picture of life. I had seen the map of life as a series of roads, with highways and byways and detours, but always one clear shining path that we were supposed to stay on. If you were on that bright path, the path was always straight and the sun always shone. It was only when you left the road that troubles loomed.
Now I see that roads are not so straightforward. You choose your road for the promised destination but the journey is never what you expect. Sometimes the way is steep, lined with sharp stones; sometimes it is a walk in the park. On some parts of the road the sun smiles; on others the wind howls. Sometimes other roads line up with ours and we trudge for a time side by side with another traveler. When we stumble, another can reach out a hand to steady us.
Then the roads diverge again; our paths change; they keep north while we veer east. But always we are on our road. The one less traveled, the one we have chosen. The road beckons and we follow. We have chosen the destination and the road will take us where it wills. Its troubles train our endurance, strengthen our commitment until we are worn shiny smooth like rocks in a tumbler.
I stumble. I fall. I pick myself up. I repair the road. I learn. Success lies just over the next hill…or the one after that.
“The road is clear and the way open to all the success I desire!”
In December of 1999, I had been working on The Wealthy Spirit for about a year and a half. Funny things happened sometimes – something outside myself would take over and write. I know this, because I will often read a page from the book and have no recollection of writing it.
One afternoon, a gang of City workers were repairing the street outside my house, and I was thinking about roads, and journeys. As I started to write, the words took shape as a poem. My publisher didn’t think it was good enough to include in the book, but my roommate Shelley thinks it’s the best thing I ever wrote. I like it myself. Make of it what you will.
“No parking” signs nailed on a tree
The road is closed for surgery
With huge machines that cut and churn
Spit gravel chunks and scrape and burn.
With broken skin that seems to weep
The bruises on the pavement seep
Awaiting asphalt acne cream
To soothe the sorrows of the dream.
Fourteen men in four-ton trucks
Rope the road that twists and bucks
They brand a hot new blue-black skin
Where once old pock-marked scars had been.
I, too, have shouldered such a load
With layers thick of rocky road
Buried deep beneath new skins
I paste on top to hide my sins.
Potholes, pits and deep scars ride
Just underneath the smiling side
They give me depth and shape and hue
Denied to those whose tracks are new.
And I will bear more troubles well
Because this road has led through hell
Resurfacing in brighter days
I slowly learn to change my ways.
No parking here, keep moving on
Where others trudged and then were gone
A million roads more millions trod
All wend their winding way to God.