“At this point in my life the thought of dying does not bother me that much. I feel that I have lived a fairly faithful life (to Christ), a full life; accomplished a few meaningful things that have made a difference and been blessed beyond anything I deserved or earned. I don’t want to die, but I think I would depart without regrets.”
This sentiment was not expressed by me, the recent cancer survivor, but by my husband about 4 years ago. But recently some of his reflections seem to modify that original statement.
The lyrics of a song in one of David’s iTunes playlists by John Mayer, “Stop This Train,” has made me wonder whether he has had a change of heart.
Stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
I know I can’t but honestly won’t someone stop this train
So scared of getting older
I’m only good at being young
So I play the numbers game to find a way to say that life has just begun
Had a talk with my old man
Said help me understand
He said turn 68, you’ll renegotiate
Don’t stop this train
Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in
Don’t think I couldn’t ever understand
I tried my hand
John, honestly we’ll never stop this train
Today, an eleven hour car drive from Buffalo to Hampton Roads, Virginia prompted the question I had been meaning to ask.
“Hey David, here is what I have noticed in the last several years… You were once content and now, not so much … Am I off or on track and do you care to talk about it?”
Long car rides or walks are the business for relationship talks and/or philosophical musings. They are better in some ways than the prescribed, “sit across the table from one another and talk.” There is something about movement of two bodies in close proximity to each other that feels safe, purposeful and engaging. Looking ahead together as opposed to looking at each other allows spoken thoughts to be free of the distraction of disconcerting facial expressions.
”Why are you looking at me like that?”
“I don’t know but your eyes did a weird thing when I said…”
Expectations are high when sitting across the table (excluding sit down meal times) to have ‘the talk.’ A contrived setting has been established for a limited time to reach a resolution, solve a problem, or discuss a serious topic. The pressure is on and so is the stress that there could be a misstep. Long distance journeys are not limited on time and have just the right amount of boredom, leaving room for the spontaneous and reflective.
We can all probably think of some piece of literature or a movie where people on a journey together make observations of life, people, and relationships. The topics range from the sublime to the ridiculous to the evil. A pastor once quoted someone as saying, “all good stories begin and end with a journey.” I would add that if that journey is accompanied with other individuals the possibilities of new insights and revelations are heightened, deepened and possibly healing. Many books (here are a few from my recent reading list) verify such insight: “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger (a family’s journey of discovery) and Pulitzer prize winning, “Breathing Lessons” by Anne Tyler (a married couple’s long car journey revealing the meaning of a long marriage with its ups and downs). But lest I sound naïve, people on journeys together can also prompt the ridiculous, mischief and evil, i.e.… “Dumb and Dumber”, “Thelma and Louise”, “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Natural Born Killers” to name a few.
Jesus on the road to Emmaus appearing to two disciples (Luke 24:13-35) is an example of the sublime. The gospel reports that on that journey the post resurrected-Christ walked and talked incognito to the two unnamed disciples, giving time to answering questions and explaining deep scriptural truths that revealed His true nature and life’s purpose. “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked,” exclaimed the two after Christ disappeared from their midst. That journey changed them forever.
Back to David and Dona’s 11-hour care drive journey:
“You are insightful, Dona, up to a point. It is not about fear of dying but contentment. I have more discontent than 4 years ago. Not a big deal but something is going on. In fact, it is part of the reason I have asked you to blog about late middle age baby boomer insecurity. I was hoping that you could do a little research and then enlighten me to what may be going on.”
So, I am taking his challenge and will do the research for next week’s blog. For now, I will stop writing and make sure I am not wasting a journey’s relationship discovery possibilities.