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The House and the Road

“My house says to me, “Do not leave me, for here dwells your past.”
And the road says to me, “Come and follow me, for I am your future.”
And I say to both my house and the road, “I have no past, nor have I a future. If I stay here, there is a going in my staying; and if I go there is a staying in my going. Only love and death will change all things.”
– Khalil Gibran, Sand and Foam

Lately I’ve been thinking of the house I’ve lived in as an anchor.  An anchor can have both a positive and negative connotation of course, but I thought of it in the positive way.   I’ve been putting a lot of time in at the old anchor lately, quarantined in a pandemic and working from home.  And the completed projects have stacked up into something tangible.  I could almost stay here forever.

Lately I’ve also been thinking about the road.  Getting out there and seeing the world again, almost like things were normal.  The list of places to go grows quietly urgent, for time is fleeting and the world changes but so do you.  I imagine a scene akin to the running of the bulls in Pamplona as would-be travelers run the streets, hoping they aren’t run over by time as they make up for 2020.

I look at the trees when I sit in the backyard, thinking they’re beginning to encroach a bit in their search for light.  This won’t do, not if we stay.  Limb up the trees now added to the list.  The list that grows and nags.  It only takes the right ratio of time and money to make a house work out for you.  You either put in more time or more money, but one way or the other the house demands a mix of both from you.

I scrolled through a list of the most beautiful place to visit in each state that Conde Nast Traveller put out a couple of years ago.  I’ve been to ten of the places listed.  Ten out of fifty.  For all my travel I’ve only been to 33 of 50 states, if you exclude layovers in random airports.  Using the same criteria, my results are much worse on global travel, where I’ve spent meaningful time in only 12 of 195 countries.  The road mocks me even as it calls.

There is a season for everything, and the last twenty-two years have been the season of parenting and being present as a father, layered with epic travel blessings.  I travel more than many do in their lifetimes, and I’ve managed to do it while being present for my children in their own lives as they’ve grown into adults.  I see the people traveling the world with their children and I’m awed by the life these families are living, but I wanted my own kids to grow up in a neighborhood, playing sports and riding bicycles up and down the street and building lifetime memories.  I suppose I could have added another dozen countries to the list, maybe even 50 more.  But here in this house dwells my past, and it’s not such a bad past at that.

“Come and follow me, for I am your future”

And now?  Now I plot and scheme and decide what to prioritize. I have at least 47 reasons to stay in New Hampshire for the foreseeable future as I quietly chip away at the 4000 footers.  There’s a net benefit in hiking in better fitness as well.  Resuming global travel will have to wait a bit longer.  Same with a few of those places I haven’t seen in the United States.  And I don’t mind waiting, for the house is not just the past, but the future as well.  At least for a little while.  It’s good to have a solid anchor at the ready.  Today, Father’s Day in America, I realize I’ve been an anchor myself.  Paid in full through time and effort and love.  With one eye on the house and the other on the road, but always present when it counts.

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