Reflections from the Road
by Rick Mansfield
“Everything has to come to an end, sometime.” So penned L. Frank Baum in one of his Oz novels. (We remember the one movie but there were fourteen books by Baum about the fabled city). Sadly, quite true. Whether a moment or a lifetime, things come to an end.
Most routinely, days. Though I still enjoy a nice sunrise, even just the dawn as the woods awaken around me; I find myself dragging out of bed later so actually see more sunsets. Maybe this summer habit is what has me thinking more of termination than origin in recent days.
Maybe because I have seen several things come to an end, far more unexpectantly than the turning of our globe. A house that had been in our family for a century-and-a-half burned to the ground. Our pack of three beagles became two. The same math happened within our family; a trio of siblings became a pair.
I attended another funeral of a friend. A much too frequent occasion these last few years. I am sure the majority of my readers share this sentiment. Endure the same losses. Friends. Family. Some loved one.
But back to more mundane and less depressing endings. An old movie. As the airplane climbs into the sky in Casablanca, I know there will be little more witty-patter from Humphrey Bogart. A favorite song. When I hear “the silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky” or “after twenty years he still grieves” I know that the Williams’ or the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band tune is about over.
When I read the lines “The painter went again into the Ozarks…”, I know I am nearing the end of Wright’s wonderful Ozark story—The Shepherd of the Hills.” When I pass the mouth of Sinkin’ Creek, I know my float to Round Spring is almost over. The same can be said of any stretch of any stream. There is some marker that lets us know we are nearly finished.
Meals. Am I the only one that savors that last morsel of fried venison or yellow-sucker? Uses a spoon to gather up those few crumbs that fell from dunked cornbread into that cold glass of milk?
A favored hiking-trail. A stump to be sat upon before the next turn takes one to an asphalt parking lot. Greeting cards and letters. Savoring an accolade or endearment while noting the salutation is only lines below. We can visibly see what is left. When the end is near.
Some things in life are more difficult to gauge. Relationships for example. Who hasn’t been surprised by an abrupt termination? Or an unseen turn? Perhaps a betrayal or breach of trust that just cannot be endured?
Not all endings are delivered in an orderly manner. Come in a logical sequence. Death is one such finale. It sometimes sneaks in as a final breath or crashes onto us in some form of trauma. Reminding us we are truly just “a mist.”
With age, supposedly comes wisdom. If so, as we begin that favorite book; we should savor each beautiful passage. That meal; chew the first bite as slowly as the last. A conversation with a loved one? Let us listen more than we speak. And let us truly hear.
Every sunset, heralds another night. Is prequel to another dawn and predecessor to yet another sunset. All to be cherished and enjoyed. “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Dr. Seus.
All things end. Even musings. Thanks for joining us!