Isn’t it strange, how we can know something, even accept it, but not really see it there, right in front of our eyes? But then, be going about our normal business, and some little detail catches our eye and suddenly we fully comprehend what was right there all along?
I am back to writing the story I have mentioned in previous posts. Actually moving along quite well and smoothly, and then suddenly realized something I should have known, been able to define, for years. It made so much sense that I laughed out loud for not having put it together sooner.
My father was a very curious man. He was a truck driver and loved nothing more than to take a Sunday drive without any particular destination. We’d be moving along, oftentimes singing, and he would say, “I wonder where that road goes…” and immediately turn onto it and we’d be off on an adventure.
This was a part of my childhood, my upbringing. And I spent more time with my Dad than my three siblings. I was his fishing buddy, so that oft spoken refrain, based in curiosity, was far more familiar to me than most. And those side trips, both long and short, were a part of most of our fishing expeditions. He was always looking for a new fishing spot, sometimes, so much so, that we never got to the actual fishing at all.
That didn’t frustrate me. I was always rewarded for my acquiescence. We’d stop for delicious but greasy hamburgers at one of the many truck stops he often used, or I’d get a double dipped ice-cream cone, and one time, when I was only twelve, I got my first driving lesson in an old Jeep, with Dad doing the shifting and me just hanging on to the steering wheel. It was loads of fun, I had alone time with the most important man in my life, and also the reward of some sort of adventure to tell about when I got home.
Needless to say, I found curiosity a valued element in my world. It called for one to be open and aware, but also willing to take risks and chances. We didn’t always find something new at the end of the road. A few times we simply found the end of the road and had to backtrack to get out again.
I saw my first black bear, sitting in the middle of just such a backtracking expedition, playing with the dappling sunlight and seemingly unaware of the two of us watching in hushed silence for several minutes. There was always so much more to see, to know, and to learn. And my Father was an excellent teacher, whether he did so knowingly or not. We talked about all of it, seemingly little details, like the birds in the trees and animal tracks in the mud and dirt.
My Father’s curiosity became my own, accepted even when it was met with sighs of exasperated frustration at my constant questions. And my desire to see what was at the other end of whatever path I might be traveling, was simply a matter of how I got through my own journey. Noting the details, wondering at the story behind them, defining my own experience through just that kind of awareness and openness.
When I finally, late in life, went to college and found writing was the one thing I wanted to do, it didn’t occur to me that I was simply following in my Father’s footsteps. He drove a truck, telling constant stories about that experience. I drove a pen across paper, expressing my own experiences in words, satisfying my own curiosity of where the story would end, and often finding a different ending there, hidden in the details of the words I chose to use.
The desire to write was so strong, that I didn’t give up, when in the course of this formal education, I discovered that there were rules to learn and to adhere to. I did them, over and over again, and held onto the promise that when I had learned all of them, and had gotten good at what I was learning, I could then break the rules and follow my own thoughts to whatever conclusion I might find. That was something I looked forward to doing.
I, very recently, changed the visual theme on another one of my blogs. As soon as I saw the image of the theme, I knew it was perfect.
In explaining the image, and what it meant to me, I found my father and all of those memories. His curiosity about exploring new avenues, wanting nothing more than to see what lies beyond the next curve in the road.
When I write, I do so off-the-cuff, just following the words, curious about where they will lead me, and what new thing I will find beyond the curves they often create. I did the same thing while attempting to explain the drastic change I had chosen for my site’s appearance. In doing so, I finally put all of my Father’s lessons together on one page.
I could finally see, in those few words, the life lessons my Father had instilled in me. The ones that still form the basis of how I proceed, evolve, and become whatever it is I am to become. I don’t think we ever spoke of sheep, of light and shadow, or of walking ones own singular and solitary path. Yet, those things, those thoughts, were the ones that were most comfortable to me, and came from my Father’s need to satisfy his own curiosity.
I will continue to explore my path, leaning into the next curve, incredibly grateful to the man who structured my life lessons. Laying down the words is a great deal like forming that path one word at a time. I will continue to follow those words and my Father’s example. Besides being curious, he was a very generous and happy individual. And, I believe, I am his legacy.