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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Are We There Yet?*

*Somerset, PA Daily American
October 2, 2010
as "Destination and a Journey"

Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey

In my youth, my father, on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, would pile us into the car and off we would go for a journey into the countryside. In the summer, we might visit a small town, or just drive to the airport to watch the planes take off and land. In the fall, we’d seek out the roadside stands where apples could be found, fresh picked and at the peak of taste and color. I will always remember the sweet taste of that fruit while watching the countryside flow past my window.

There were other times, other trips where we were governed by a destination, someplace we had to reach by a certain time. While I always found travel to be fun, I have to admit that having a destination took away some of the adventure.

At this point in my life, I understand that while travel is travel, there is a definitive difference between a destination and the journey.

Any motorcyclist would understand that difference. Our best rides, it seems consist of sojourns through the country, the only goal being our garage at the end of the day. Within the chains of our over-scheduled lives, there’s something innately joyful about following the whims of one’s heart rather than the dictates of time and responsibility.

My wife, a proto-typical Type A, is driven by the idea of destination. One must always know where to go, how to get there, and what time to arrive. The route must be planned efficiently, so as not to waste any precious time. I, on the other hand, am completely opposite. My planning generally includes the liberal use of words like “about,” “roughly,” and “whenever.” My routing might never be the shortest or the quickest, but it will be an interesting drive, and don’t worry; we’ll get there eventually.

In the 32 years we’ve been married, these two contradictory approaches have driven both of us crazy at different times. Yet, we both have come to recognize the value of our opposite natures. She keeps me on my toes, reminding me that time and karma are not reliable or effective tools when there is a task that needs to be done right now. I, on the other hand, remind her that focusing too much on efficiency can blind her to the beauty and simple joys of life that swirl around her every day. In our mutual contradiction, we are perfect for each other.

One of the most important elements in a marriage is the acknowledgement that we can help each other grow. What made us imperfect apart makes us perfect together. And while growth is sometimes painful, it is always necessary.

Life is a journey, it’s onset marked by the first cry of birth, it’s end by the last beat of our hearts. The path we walk along that journey is sometimes level and effortless, other times, rocky, steep, and strewn with potholes. And whether we choose to meander along, taking in the beauty along the way, or stride forward purposefully, our eyes fixed resolutely on the destination over the next hill, it’s much easier if you don’t have to do it alone. We take that journey together, hand in hand, forever joined by love.

Perhaps it is both a destination and a journey.
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