*Somerset Daily American May 21, 2010
as "Feeling Restless"
as "Feeling Restless"
Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey
If I were to pick a word to describe my state of mind these days, that would be the one.
This is not an unusual feeling for me. All my life I have yearned for the freedom to explore. But as a profession, vagabondery doesn’t pay all that well and over the years that’s tended to keep me on the straight and narrow.
I’ve traveled far and wide over the years for both work and fun. In the rearview mirror of my memories lie 49 states and some 20 foreign countries. My wife and I have lived in several places in the 32 years we’ve been married, such as Missouri, Virginia, Hawai’i, California, Missouri again, and Pennsylvania. Except for the 14 years we spent in Missouri raising a bumper crop of kids, our stays in those places were relatively short. One would think that once I got into my 50’s I would be more inclined to put down roots. But that hasn’t been the case. The clock is ticking, the calendar is turning and as the time I have left dwindles, my impatience grows ever more intense.
I recognize the symptoms.
o On my daily commute, having to push back the strong temptation to sail past my exit and keep on going.
o The sense of adventure I feel when perusing a road atlas.
o The question my mind generates when looking towards the horizon: what am I missing?
o The stifling feeling of being chained to a routine.
o The longing I feel watching the trains pull away from the station.
With my motorcycle out of winter storage, it’s only gotten worse.
If restlessness was a disease, than I would be declared incurable; if it were a crime, I would have been imprisoned long ago. As to why I am afflicted so, I wish I knew. I know there are others in my same condition. Perhaps we could start our own support group...
“Hello, my name is Ralph; and I’m restless.”
All humans are unique. There are others who are safely and securely rooted to their homes and lives, who are content to never travel beyond the next town. For them, the horizon is a wall, separating the security of the safe and the known from what lies beyond. But for me, the horizon is a gateway; the welcoming portal beyond which beckons the seductive mystery of the things I haven’t seen; places I’ve never been; people I’ve never met. For me, there is no greater joy than seeking the unknown, and making it known.
The mystical road that is my life will eventually stop, as it does for us all. But, like the poet Robert Frost …”I have promises to keep; and miles to go before I sleep.” The open road still beckons; it calls to the sojourner inside.
None of us knows when our journey will end; or how, or where. But I will never fear that moment. It is not the end, but only the first step on the last, but also the greatest journey I will ever take.