As I was strolling down the hill last night after hitting some golf balls and launching some arrows it was hard not to notice the tractor-trailer minus the back-end pulling into the driveway.
I knew who it was because the person told me a week earlier that he would be in town. I was interested to hear about his life and where it had taken him over the last few years.
The last time we spoke I was in my driveway on Rainbow Trail when he drove by and swung in for a chat. It was good to see him back then as it would be on this night, too.
We grew up in the same neighborhood. You can call it Frog Hollow, although I was from on top of the hill above the hollow. There were many kids in the neighborhood that were all within 4-5 years of each other. Some had more than others, but we were all kids in search of friendship and wild adventures that we could share together. As with any kids we did our fair share of arguing and making up. A few fist fights here and there were all part of the growing process as well. All in all I think we learned small things from one another as every year inched us closer to adulthood.
Eventually we started falling into our routines and life began sending us in many different directions. Some of us remained close and others seemed like they were swept away in a funnel cloud. A few of us even married and gave that a whirl until we figured out that it just wasn’t meant to be. Now that we’re all adults it’s neat to see who ended up where and it’s even more amazing that most of us still have contact from time to time. It’s nothing like it was when we shared the larger part of every summer day together, but it still says something in a simple way.
Well, anyhow the “coke-bottle” (as they called him in school because of his lack of shoulders) slid down out of the big rig. His hearty and genuine smile welcomed me as I had made my way down to the driveway. I’m not sure how I could tell, but almost instantly I knew that after many years he had finally found his place in this world. He didn’t have to tell me and I didn’t need any time to figure it out. His aura made it perfectly clear. It made my soul warm right to the bone. If anyone deserves to find their way he is definitely one of those people.
All of us experience different upbringings. As I watched from a distance his was a little rougher than normal. He lost his mom at a very young age and was left to fend for himself in the years that followed. He hit a few too many speed bumps along the way and ended up in trouble more often than not. He spent some time staring out from behind the bars, probably wondering if things would ever turn around.
I agree that you are a product of your own environment. However, there comes a time where you ultimately become responsible for your actions. You can’t continue to blame the status of your life on other people. Everyone is faced with choices and it is our responsibility to choose things that will put us in a better place.
I asked where home was and he told me that he now lived in South Carolina. I couldn’t have been happier for him. He went on to tell me that one day he just had enough and decided to head south. He didn’t know what he would find, but he knew he had to get away from the life that he was so accustomed to in this area. Instead of letting things spiral any further out of control he decided to finally take control and make his life better. Shortly after he arrived in South Carolina he realized that long-haul trucking was what he was destined to do.
He told me that there’s no better way to see the country than through the window of an 18-wheeler. I was excited to listen to him talk about his experiences on the road. As he spoke of the many places he has traveled in this great nation it was almost overwhelming. I know that I’m very fortunate, but it made me appreciate it even more when he was talking.
When we were kids I didn’t know if he would ever find his way, especially as we grew into our mid to late teens. While I’m sure that some others in the neighborhood will never find their way, I am absolutely positive that he has finally arrived in the place that was meant just for him.
One of the other kids in the neighborhood is moving to New York City next week. While I’m not close to this person and don’t know hardly anything about her I’m almost certain that she is searching too hard for her place. She’s taking a risk that might not be worth taking. Unlike him, she doesn’t have that clear sense that it is time to go. Instead of knowing, she’s taking a leap into an unknown land almost hoping that something will find her instead of finding something for herself. It’s a scary situation at best.
I’ve watched some of the other kids move from house to house to house in search of material wealth. The more I own and the more expensive my belongings cost the better I am. It’s very sad to watch from afar. It’s hard to believe that people base their happiness and well being solely on material gain. This reminds me of a quote that one of my friends told me his grandfather told him as a child. It reads something like this: “Be very careful of what you become in pursuit of what you want.” I’ve watched people with my own eyes become so self-absorbed that they can turn their backs on people that gave them everything and walk away without anything as good as a simple good-bye.
I’m not sure that I’ve found my “spot” yet, but I know that I’m not far from it. My mind is at rest and I’m at peace inside. In all reality I couldn’t ask for much more than that because those things bring me happiness. I don’t need money, a fancy home, fancy car or anything material to show that my life is good. I base the success of my life on the people that constantly return to see me. It makes me realize that somewhere along the way that I must have been a good friend to these people. I always gave people an honest opinion even if I thought it would hurt them. I called a spade a spade which I believe earned the respect of others.
As the saying goes, “treat people as you want to be treated and it will come back to you ten-fold.” I have to agree. I’m glad that many of my childhood friends come back, even if they disappear from time to time. I’m not the best friend at contacting people, but I’m very thankful that they are. There are a few others in the neighborhood that I wish hadn’t left us so soon and others that I will never understand, but I’m thankful that I shared my early years with each and every one of them no matter where the journey of life has taken them.
As he clicked the lights on and fired up his big rig I turned my back, walked up the driveway and smiled. I was truly happy for him. If anyone needed to find the place he was destined to be in, it was him.
I wish a few others could learn from this and realize that happiness comes from within. You don’t need substitutes such as drugs, alcohol or material gains to find happiness. The secret lies deep within us. We hold the key to happiness and we’re the only one that has the power to unlock it. We can’t find happiness in others until we find it in ourselves. However, some people jump from person to person to person to find a perceived happiness. It only lasts for a short time because it’s simply impossible to live through someone else. It sets us up for disappointment and failure.
It should be easy to look in the mirror and see if you’re in “the place.” If the person staring at you isn’t smiling chances are you should keep on searching. Better yet, don’t search so hard. Instead, focus all of your energy on doing things that make you happy. If you enjoy shopping go shopping. If you enjoy golfing go golfing. If you enjoy spending time with certain people set time aside and ask those people to do more things with you. You have to keep growing inside as you age. That’s the secret to finding your way.
With every passing day the vision gets clearer. I’m waiting to walk into a dream to see where it might take me. Heck, dreams only last a few seconds,
so I’m sure I’ll end up someplace that I can easily escape from if I don’t like it. One foot is in………………………………..and the other is dangling.