When I was a child, my father would take my mom and I out for a "Sunday drive." We never knew where we were going, but somehow it always seemed familiar.
The back roads of Pennsylvania would wind through some of the most beautiful countryside. The rolling hills and valleys made for a roller coaster experience that made the locally famous "Bear Cat" ride look tame.
Well, at least in the mind of a little boy already filled with enough imagination to turn any drive into a amusement park ride.
My wife and I set off on our great adventure just before noon. At first the roads seemed all too familiar. I've traveled through this incredible state hundreds of times presenting programs for state and county employees. Most of the time they were held in small town halls or chain hotels conveniently located off the interstates.
"I need some adventure!" I said.
"There, I need to turn around and go down that road!" I shouted.
"Why?" my wife asked.
"It was calling my name!" I declared.
And so it was. This road...this pathway to somewhere...was like a map of my life.
Twists, turns and dead ends seem to parallel the 53 years I've spent thus far in search of my destiny.
Whatever that is.
But it wasn't until I started seeing the old abandoned houses that I really connected to it. You know, the farm houses and pre-depression homesteads that still dot the countryside.
"Where?" she asked.
"I need to go see that beautiful house."
"That old house?" she asked.
"Yes. I want to touch the people who lived there," I said.
It goes back to my childhood. We loved to find old abandoned buildings and dig through the past. Even as a child I remember feeling something, a powerful force, an immediate connection to the past whenever I held something old in my hands.
Touching the splintered, rotted wood on a windowsill as I looked through the broken glass of this house gave me a sense of the people who once lived there.
Off in the corner lay a broken chair. The wallpaper peeled down from the ceiling revealing cracked and crumbling plaster. The sun beamed down through holes and spotlighted large chunks on the floor exposing the bare planks that framed the room.
When there was no traffic passing on the nearby road, the wind could be heard rushing through the skeletal remains of someone's past.
That's when it hit me.
This path I've taken along the way in life, the road I've traveled is lined with things I've left behind. Abandoned dreams, plans fulfilled and yes, people I've known, all are a reflection of who I am today.
I wondered now if someone paused alongside my road in life, would they see the remains of a happy man? Would they talk to people who knew me and get a sense that I was fair, kind, compassionate? Or are there all too many tales of failure, hurt, and disappointment?
Oh, but what of the road ahead? Having traveled this far could mean I am half way there or near the end. But this Sunday drive just might serve as a wakeup call for me.
The road ahead is twisted and curved. I cannot see around the corners. But I can see the path here under my feet. It is here that I can make a difference. It is now that I can touch the lives of those I meet in such a way that nothing but kind words can be spoken of me.
So when my journey's over, no one will look at my life and say, "That old house?"