The Open Road – Discovery, Freedom and Healing by Saira Murtza
I have often wondered why traveling down an open road provides me with a certain freedom and healing seldom felt elsewhere. Though we may travel down the same highways, and drive past the same mile markers, aging structures and familiar visited rest stops, each of us imprints our own impressions of a world based on our own experiences, leaving footprints of our own story in the landscape.
Over the past decade I have found a new fondness for my road trips from Jersey to Canada. They are filled with simple excitement and scenic views. The long stretches of the road are more than mere transit to me. It’s renewal, revival, the recollection of memories that feed the soul. It is my life through the transcendence of time and space, my own reflection of memories.
My journey along the ‘open road’ has provided me with time to reflect on life, as I re-examine the past, think about the present and dream of future possibilities. I notice the changing smells in the air, the colors that illuminate the sky, the sounds of the birds and other animals in the far distance.
Observing the conditions of the road, everything I discover or recognize is a manifestation of my own adventure. Passing by the everlasting landmarks of physically abandoned buildings, I think about their previously embodied lives and experiences, leaving their story behind. They too have left their footprints on history.
Time never stands still, it’s forever shifting, changing and altering our interactions with the world.
Traveling year to year along this same road, I started recognizing houses, barns, buildings, silos, physical mile markers unconsciously. I often felt a little saddened because so many structures have changed over the years while others have stayed the same: unaltered, unscathed on the outside, the inside may tell a different story.
How time sets in and all things age – like the dry petals of the rose tossed along the side of the road. Nothing stays the same – like the red barn that has moldered over the years that incapsulated the once forgotten splendor of its vermillion glory, in its time. Certain mile markers share the same past grandeur, however outdated they might seem now. Time never stands still, it’s forever shifting, changing and altering our interactions with the world. Just like the whimsical movement of the overgrown grass waist high, that sways elegantly with each passing car.
With loss of focus for the moment and gearing my attention to the boys in the background, the constant laughter coming from the back seats, I peer through the overhead mirror and realize once again how time flies. The boys were ‘wee’ babies when I started down this road and now they have turned into young men. Narrowing in on their humor and sense of comedy, I begin to focus on their conversation about their shared love for music. Their unique connection as siblings calms me – I know they have each other.
We continue to drive. The ever-changing scenery along the way triggers precious childhood memories. The nostalgia of the fresh baked sweets and baskets of freshly picked fruit from our trees. The stomach pain laughter from our shenanigans as kids. The echo of lost voices and conversations that roam free in spirit. The house is the same physical structure but many have passed, left, traveled on although not before leaving an imprint on our lives.
My journey symbolizes memories of my past and how I carry them along with me. The irony that the day always turns into night along the way. My deep retrospection teaches me not to mourn what was lost, for it continues to illuminate my heart and enrich my soul. The realization is priceless, egoless and peaceful.
Slowly, dawn turns into dusk. The air is filled with easy warmth as it draws on repose and nighttime bliss. We arrive at our destination in time. I feel physically exhausted but fulfilled and renewed, ready to hug my father as he opens the front door to welcome us home.
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