What if this road, that has held no surprises
these many years, decided not to go
home after all; what if it could turn
left or right with no more ado
than a kite-tail? What if its tarry skin
were like a long, supple bolt of cloth,
that is shaken and rolled out, and takes
a new shape from the contours beneath?
And if it chose to lay itself down
in a new way; around a blind corner,
across hills you must climb without knowing
what’s on the other side; who would not hanker
to be going, at all risks? Who wants to know
a story’s end, or where a road will go?
– Sheenagh Pugh, What If This Road
That anticipation of what’s around the bend or over the next rise is the fuel of exploration. Getting out there, seeing what there is to see, chancing upon magic and the mysterious, that’s the stuff of life. And it’s what we anticipate in the faraway places we might visit after the world opens up again.
But the alternate path, the shake of routine to try a new way, that holds plenty of potential too, doesn’t it? I should think so. The last year has proven the point: when you can’t cross borders, the world down that path you’ve ignored for years looks pretty inviting. That dusty little corner with a story to tell is more informative in its proximity than those extraordinary places that remain tantalizingly out of reach.
The last year has a silver lining, and it’s learning our own backyard better than we ever thought possible. Those castles and islands and mountains that call to us are just around the corner too. But for now let’s embrace the road we can travel on today, and see just where it will go. And where we might go.