Society: The Best Distance

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the-glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this, a journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. I feel better now, having said this, although only those who have experienced it will understand it.”

~John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

I’ve been thinking. Sometimes our yearning for the elusive “other thing” robs us of our daily joy. How often I chastise myself for not being “in the moment,” for harboring the uneasy feeling that I ought to be somewhere else, doing something else. As one with an eternity ahead, it seems inconsistent to fret over the call of the “multi-task.” Here between the worlds, is a great time to practice for the world in which all moments swirl together into a single MOMENT. What will that be like? I’ll have to wait and see. Mean time I have a few things to learn about daily joy and being deliriously, steadfastly, earnestly in “the moment.”

John Steinbeck set out with his giant poodle, Charley, to rediscover America, his native land. He circumnavigated the country in a pickup truck and camper he named Rocinante. Steinbeck probably chose the name of Don Quixote’s horse for his rolling home for the same reason I choose to call my bicycle by that name, Rocinante was the transport of a lunatic idealist.

Steinbeck’s journals from that journey became, Travels with Charley. How different that book would have been had he been fixated on a destination rather than remain intent in the journey. What if he had chosen a destination, Googled a map, merged onto the interstate and stopped only for gas? Travels with Charley would have been Googles with Charley and would have been dramatically shorter, no more that a few pages.

The straight line distance between two points, may be the shortest distance, but perhaps it is not the best distance. The life between the worlds is textured and real; asymmetrical. It draws little from the artificial life of contemporary culture. At least that’s the way I see it. Now the question is what gives the life of a Christ-follower its texture? Where ought we be looking for the transcendent reality applied at ground level? Surely, the Bible contains the blueprint, but what does the life built from it look like?

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