In days of yore, families would load up the sedan and head out on The Great American Adventure. Candy and distractions for the kids, Mom navigating the route courtesy of the handy Flip Map provided by AAA, down the highways and byways we went, a summertime ritual that at once recalled The Grapes of Wrath and Every Home Movie.
Stuckey’s was the respite, that welcome roadside stop at Just the Right Place, just in time to soothe frazzled nerves and fill an empty tank. There was candy, the good ‘vacation’ kind of candy that was to be consumed only during Family Vacation. Things like root beer flavored sugar sticks, Zotz, and candy cigarettes. All of this and more in abundance at a Stuckey’s Stop right down the road.
But it was also a time to contemplate the journey. A time to either anticipate the path ahead or reflect on the experience that was depending on which direction the sedan was currently pointed.
In that spirit of reflection, for the past year or so I’ve embarked on a bit of a journey of reflection and anticipation myself, seeing what exists just out of reach. Seeing how that reach can extend with each grasp.
And YouTube becomes the repository for the results. Not as an homage but more as a method of accountability. If I’m to learn it does no good to do that in a vacuum but still take the victory lap of knowledge gained without tangible evidence. Maybe it’s the pandemic, maybe it’s advancing age (or most likely both) but risks seem must less so, the reward of knowledge acquired far outweighs the risk of failure for the only ‘failure’ per se would be failure to attempt. Not quite 100 monkeys with 100 typewriters in search of Shakespeare but more so a singular monkey with more questions than answers in search of knowledge and the pursuit thereof.
But nudge the expectations ever so slightly northward for the exercise does have a desired outcome, an outcome is forming more fully in focus in what was once the mirage in the distance. All of this – this YouTube, this Vimeo, this 2 minute film exercise, this podcast, this imagery – it is all on a collision course to What’s Next.
But today we are at Stuckey’s strolling away from the vehicle for a second, a solitary traveler gathering his experiences of the journey so far and anticipating the path ahead. Not the path forward but ahead because one lesson from the journey has been that True Value lies not necessarily in what lies to the front but rather in what exists in the general vicinity of what passes for progress towards a destination. Sometimes the greatest rewards come from taking the unmarked exit from the expressway and being open to what’s next. Sometimes not but in both cases we are so much better for the effort.