Everyone travels the road of life. They begin at the same point and end at the same point. We are
equal at the beginning and equal at the end. The great question is what happens after the end. What is
this journey for? What is the purpose of our vast and varied experiences?

For most of us, the early part of our journey is easy. There are many guiding hands from those who
have gone the distance. We are guided and nurtured, carried and consoled. The road is straight and
narrow, and we learn during this part of our journey what is right and what is wrong. The guiding hands
lead us along day after day and tell us to avoid strangers along the way. We soon tire of the guiding
hands. They start to look like traffic control, and by now, having passed our driver's test, we don't need
direction from anyone! Then, they are gone. We are left to walk the straight and narrow by ourselves.
Unfortunately, there are left turns and right turns, shortcuts and detours, all tempting us to stray from
the main course. No one told us which turns to take. Were we not paying attention? No one left us with a
map for life's journey. And....there are strangers all along the road.

Early on, I fell for the temptation and took a left turn on the 'Shortcut to Marriage'. It was a bumpy ride
and fraught with potholes. I learned much later that if I had stayed on the 'Main Road', I would have
reached the 'Marriage Road' without a shortcut. This route was paved with knowledge and offered a
much smoother ride. Many times along the 'shortcut' I was tempted to turn back to the main road, to
abandon this hellacious ride. But I plodded along and kept going. I noticed behind me, a Man following,
always reaching out and smiling. He looked familiar. He didn't seem to be a stranger. I was really busy,
however, and didn't have time to find out who He was.

Along the 'Marriage Road', I stumbled onto another shortcut. The 'Shortcut to Children's Way' led me to
adventures I never dreamed of, and on this route I acquired more knowledge than I did during any other
part of my journey. Many times I was so busy I couldn't see the Man following me. Now when I really
needed someone, to see a smiling face, He had given up and gone away.

'Children's Way' soon joined up with the main road and I was back on course. After a short while, I took
another right turn called 'Career Path' and I was off to see what awaited me on this part of my journey.
This path was long! It was full of people, some nice, some not so nice. There was envy, greed,
darkness, and lots of corporate dictatorship. The harder I tried to move ahead, the slower the pace
became. After a short while on 'Career Path', I approached the Man who had followed me through the
years, reaching out and smiling. It seemed He knew all about me and had stayed close all those years,
many times carrying me through trials and troubles. I really did feel safe with Him.

'Education Circle' had appeared several times along the main road. I had ignored that turn before, as
other roads looked more interesting. Now I found myself wondering if it might not be time to take a new
turn. The Man gave me encouragement and support and with his guidance I made another right turn. A
whole new world opened up before me. I learned that most people had taken this road long before they
took the 'Marriage Road' or 'Children's Way'. I guess I had come full circle! No matter how much I
learned or how far I traveled on this road to knowledge, the learning just kept filling me up. Just when I
thought I could hold no more, I found one more interesting thing to study and learn about. All the while,
the Man behind me continued to stay close. He was always smiling.

Finally, I circled back and moved into 'Career Path' again, this time in the fast lane! Good things
happened over and over again. 'Career Path' was made up of blocks of opportunity.... any one of them,
mine for the choosing. All those blocks of opportunity led to something called 'Easy Street', the road to
retirement. That was the road to be on and I strived for years to get there.

I reached 'Easy Street' a lot sooner than most of my friends, and embarked on my favorite part of the
journey -- retirement! It was a quiet road that had no directional signs. It was up to me what direction I
chose. It was a time to focus inward. I could be involved, or sit back and do nothing. I could get out and
meet people, or stay home and do nothing. I could give back to the community, or hide my talents and
do nothing. I have now spent a lot of time on 'Easy Street' walking with the Man. We have gotten closer
and we talk a lot these days. He shows me how to enjoy my journey, to appreciate all that I see and do,
and to love all those that I meet along the way. He is such great company I will never leave Him and He
will never leave me.

I am nearing what looks like the end of 'Easy Street' and there's a right turn into 'Old Age'. It's not really
a turn, but looks more like a gradual bend onto an unknown road. It too is filled with people. There are
all kinds of people... some happy, some sad, most doing nothing. I don't think I'm ready to go there. I
think I will linger along 'Easy Street' a little longer to smell the roses, to meet new friends, to help those
in need, and to enjoy life with those I love. My friend, the Man, says not to worry. When I reach 'Old Age'
He'll still be with me and at the end of the road called 'Old Age', He promises that He'll show me a road
paved with gold. I'll even get to meet his Father.

Gotta run......time is short......see ya soon!
Traveling the Road
Sylvia Lynch Matthews