Navigating the Ups and Downs as We Travel This Road Called 'Life'

Sunday, February 25, 2018

I have a habit...I take a lot of photos.  You all know that, I think.  What you may not know is that I take a lot of photos of roads, specifically of the road ahead of me from the passenger seat of our car.  Yes, I take photos out my passenger window but on pretty much every road trip,  I shoot at least one photo looking directly ahead of me.  I do that for a couple of reasons -  1) sometimes I just like the view, the curve of the road, the arrow straight line of the road, maybe the view ahead.  And 2) At some point in time, that view ahead became symbolic for me.  It became an analogy of sorts, a reminder, a symbol of life.

I'll explain that but first let me begin with a story.  I've been spending some time recently cleaning out digital files, specifically I've been going through all the digital photo files on my computer, about 10 years worth.  I'm not sure exactly how many that adds up to, but I do know that when I got my most recent computer a few years ago and had the task of restoring photos onto this computer...there were over 70,000.  Considering I take a couple hundred photos on each road can imagine I've accumulated a few more in these past few years.  So, here I sit looking at these files deleting imperfect shots, duplicate shots, nothing the thousands.  Last evening I was working on a batch when I came across a file of photos taken one particular December night in 2012 when we took our daughter and granddaughter to Saratoga to see Christmas lights.  It was later that same evening that our daughter announced to us that she'd been offered a promotion and would be moving her family to Indiana.

I've talked about this more than once in my blog, but for those of you who might be new, this news was devastating.  If ever I felt the life sucked from me, if ever I felt broken beyond description or repair, if ever I felt hopeless, it was this night.  Our daughter who couldn't go on sleep overs, who called home every day from college, was moving half way across the country with our 2 1/2 yr. old granddaughter and our son-in-law.  As silly as this may sound to some of you, for me it felt like she was moving to Mars.  The next few months leading up to her move were probably the most difficult months of my life, each day filled with sadness, apprehension, and dread.  Each time I looked at my granddaughter, even though she was standing right in front of me, I felt pain and grief and gut wrenching despair.  I couldn't embrace this time, these final months with her....all I could do was grieve and dread the days ahead.   Well, I survived their three years in Indiana and I'm happy to report they are now back in NY living down the street from us.  Thank God!  But as I went through the hundreds of images that span the months from their announcement until their departure, my heart got heavier and heavier.  I cried and grieved and remembered the emotion of those times as if it were yesterday.  Life can be that painful at times and though we recover and regain our footing and our happiness, when we're in the grips of life's's difficult and sometimes impossible to imagine that there will be light at the end of our tunnel.  All we can see is the darkness that seems to encompass us and engulf us.

In life, both during times of darkness and even the normal, sometimes mundane passage of time, we lose sight.  In times unhindered by tribulations or hardships, we often go along from one day to the next without much thought, or much gratitude, just navigating along step by step.  We don't look ahead, we may not look back; we just exist.

Then life throws a curve ball at us.  We're rocked from the calm of our existence and we're forced to wake up and take a look around and find a way to navigate the storm we're driving through.  That may be an illness or a job loss, it may be the loss of a family member or family pet.  However big or small the storm, we are shaken to alertness and awoken out of our fog and forced to consciousness to pay attention and participate.

When we're awoken from our peaceful slumber and find ourselves in the middle of one of life's nightmares, we can't always see ahead of our crisis.  We don't know how things will turn out, where life will take us.  We can't see very far ahead of us, just where we some parts of the road.  The future is uncertain......

Then, when things are going smoothly, perhaps after we've navigated through storms and find the blue skies and sunshine again, we can comfortably see the future and can have confidence that things look smooth and steady for the foreseeable future.

I believe that life is like the open road.  Sometimes we can see where the road is leading, other times we can only see a tiny fraction of road ahead and our lives are uncertain and filled with apprehension.  Sometimes we're driving through the middle of a storm and we can't even see the road ahead of us, much less how or when things will be normal again....but....God gives us the courage and ability to keep driving and He helps us find our way back home.

Those months after Laura's announcement were difficult to navigate.  The year or so that followed were no easier.  Each trip to Indy was joyous in one direction and gut-wrenchingly difficult on the return trip.  At times I wondered if I could ever be whole again, if my family would ever be whole again.  I wondered if the dark clouds would ever lift and if I'd ever see the sun again....sort of how we felt before the days of GPS on our phone, lost on a road without a map to guide us back to familiar territory.  But time and God's grace would show me I would survive, my family would be whole again and the dark clouds would part and the sun would return and light my path.  I know that there will still be storms ahead, life will continue to place obstacles in my path and challenge me from time to time.  My road trips and the images I capture along the way will remind me not to lose sight of where I am now, where I've come from and to keep looking ahead....always to look ahead.  Where we've been gives us the tools and confidence to drive through future obstacles.  Focusing on where we are now gives us the opportunity to feel gratitude for our blessings and reminds us of how far we've come. It helps provide us the confidence to keep forging ahead...even if  we can't see what's around the bend.

In life, there are no warning signs to indicate hazards ahead. Although at times the journey might get lonely, at times we might feel we're traveling alone, without support or passengers to keep us company or help us navigate the journey, it's important to remember we are never really alone.  We didn't get to this intersection on our own and surely we aren't expected to proceed alone.  Remember who your co-pilot is and know that He's got this!   There's not a GPS in the world more powerful than Him.  Invite Him on your journey, not just through the storms, but even when life couldn't look sunnier.  After all.......didn't I hear somewhere that on the fourth day......'God created the sun, the moon, the separate the light from the darkness'.

Where is your road leading? Is your perspective unhindered by troubles or obstacles or are you struggling to navigate a hardship?  I hope today's post helps remind you that wherever you are in life's journey, you are not alone.  Next time you're in the car....take a moment to just look ahead and take a mental snapshot of the view.  Look back in your rear-view mirror and take a moment to recognize how far you've traveled and then savor in the present, grateful for this very moment.  If you enjoyed today's post and want to read more like it.....check out my blog Directory and look under the category: Food for Thought.  Thanks for reading today.  I hope your journey this week is smooth and satisfying!  Come back soon for more Life As I See It.   To subscribe to receive more posts like this as soon as they're published, click here: Subscribe

Part II of Revisiting the Rural Landscape of Carlisle NY

Monday, February 19, 2018

The little town of Carlisle ... all 34.2 square miles of it....proved that I'm not the only person who loves the rural countryside.  With over 700 reads in 24 hours, Carlisle seems to have a fan club.  As promised, in this post I'll share the photos from my recent visit, some identical views of those from 2014, and some new views too.  One thing for certain.... Carlisle is a mecca for photo ops!

As I mentioned in the first part of this two-part photo journal about Carlisle, one of the highlights of our road trip was discovering the buffalo. It's pretty commonplace to see herds of cattle when driving through farm country, heck we've even seen flocks of sheep and goats, horses too....but buffalo? This was a first.  I've got to say, it was pretty cool and we were pretty awe struck at the site of so many just grazing in the open fields and hills of Carlisle.

One of the things I love about winter is being able to see the bare skeletal shape of trees against the sky, comparing the different shapes and directions of the branches as they stretch their reach...sometimes outward, sometimes upward.

Isn't it amazing this tree is still standing?  It looked just like this in 2014 as pictured in Part I of this series.  

Besides taking the same shots at different seasons, I also find it interesting taking the same shot in color and in black and white.  What a difference in mood there reminds me of our own outlook on life.  On days when we're troubled, everything we see seems to look drab and depressing. Life looks grey and hopeless.  While B and W photos can be artistic and interesting, I think color brings them to life.  What do you think?

Hard to choose, right?  At least when the photo is a subject that tugs on your heartstrings like old barns and buildings does mine.  Speaking of old buildings....check out this deserted house.  It may look deserted at first glance but it would seem that some new boarders have taken up residence..

Look at the left side of the porch and you'll see this hanging.

Thank you people of Carlisle for your love of the rural landscape. If your property appeared in either of these posts, leave me a comment and I'd be happy to send you a digital file of your photo.  If you missed Part I of Carlisle, click here:  If you love dirt-road road trips, old barns and the country, check out my Directory under the Destination-NY category. There's also categories for VT, RI, MA and CT as well as Gardens, Shops, Intriguing People, Food for Thought and more. Just click on:  Directory  If  you love trees, especially old, gnarly ones, check out my post, Standing Strong Despite Our Brokenness  If you know of some beautiful countryside I should check out, give me a shout.  We're always looking for new places to visit.  Thanks for reading.  Be sure to share this post with someone you know and come back soon for more Life As I See It.   To subscribe to this blog, click HERE

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