Celebrate :: Both Ways, One Road
Did you know that there are places in the world where the street signs indicate that you are traveling both North and South at the same time, and in reality, by way of the compass, you are actually travelling West? New Englanders out there, you know I am not talking about the third world. I'm not talking about the alleys of Kibera or the dusty paths through the Oaxacan pueblos--those places Americans might point the finger at and call "backward." Nope, at the moment I'm thinking about one of the original American settlements, the crucible of our American Revolution, and the place that continues to set the standard for what "tradition" means in the United States. That's right, the Boston Area.
Last week I went East to retrace some of my own steps in New England. I visited with a good friend (if you follow the blog, you have met her before) and went back to my educational roots. And in the process, even with all of the tech that I had with me, I got lost...frequently.
I should have remembered to expect it. The roads around Boston are a tangle of history and progress. Entire Wikipedia entries are devoted to the depth of roadway confusion in New England. One entry deals with the Yankee Division Highway, more commonly called route 128 (where I got lost twice, once on my way south to my high school, and the other the way south to my college), there is another entry that elucidates the history of Massachusetts Route 3, Pilgrims Highway (where I got lost leaving my college campus, in a heavy downpour after my phone battery died), and there is an entry that deals with roadway concurrency (when two highways overlap) in which the main visual is a photograph taken outside of Boston (where I got lost leaving the airport).
Just this month an article ran in the Boston Globe entitled, "Road signs aimed to end driver confusion."
I wonder who's brainstorm that was, who's thinking-out-of-the-box, aha, moment it was to envision the big dream, that Boston road signs might actually contribute to ending driver confusion. It must have felt good, dwelling in the idea that drivers could get where they needed to go without getting lost, that the way could be straight forward and efficient, or that travelers could have 100% confidence all the time that they were driving on the right road in the right direction. 100% confidence--what a concept! It has such appeal to me, personally, right now, I can see how the highway planners go onboard with the idea.
But truth be told, both for me and for New England, I'm not sure 100% confidence a reasonable or even wise minded goal. The state of confusion in the road way has to do with its layered history. The weird highway overlaps, the maddening signs that point in opposite directions at the same time, and the multiple names for almost every major artery, are almost entirely due to the long history of the place. The history itself is neither good nor bad, not something to romanticize or deny, but instead something to consider and to remember. That the old roads continue to exist points to the fact that in some way they still have meaning or usefulness to the people who regularly drive on them (even if that meaning and use is lost on outsiders). No one is willing to throw out the history completely, even if it might reduce confusion.
And to me, having just come back from some of my own roots, the idea of holding space for both history and progress seems a worthwhile effort, at least for now. Even though it is more confusing. Even though I am not sure where exactly I'm going when the road points both ways. And even though it is probably one the things about myself that most frequently launches me into the woody allen trapped in yoga pants mind. My plan, for now, is to just hold space for it all and have faith that, eventually, I'll come upon a patch of road that is more straightforward (and then knowing myself, I will romanticize how interesting it was when the road was so confusing!).
But even in that imagined day, that day when I have a clearer sense of direction, I'm sure I will still end up at the gym the way I did last week...
And in that moment, just like I did last week, I'll make it work. I'll do yoga or pilates and get my workout in anyway:-)
A special toast to everyone out there, moms especially, who are juggling what feels like a little too much...I know you are making it work even when the conditions are a little less than ideal. I know you are getting the book done, creating new ways to love in your family, and you are holding space for our girls and us, women, to figure it out.