Saturday, October 27, 2012


My route to town during the week often provides choices now that I have a job with regular business hours. I am one of those guys who listens to the fellow in the helicopter.  His message is typically the same and usually is nothing more than a reminder that if I leave between 740 and 830 it is going to take a while.

I have, however, become creative.  At a certain juncture I can make a choice to take alternate routes. It is always a bit of a guess.  You see the traffic lined up on route 16 and you have to decide to make a left and go into it and risk a backup that drives you mad on the turnpike--or go right and take Commonwealth Avenue for a stretch.  Of course you can just forget those routes altogether and take 20 to town. Even then you have options. It's a puzzle of sorts, given conditions x and y, how can you get to z?

On Tuesday I had to get in early and spent a good portion of the commute patting myself on the back for having made the correct choice at every turning point. (It has gone the other way on more than one occasion). Maybe it was because I was not particularly aggravated that I began to muse about the metaphor of having to make choices when the road gets jammed and aggravating. It is not the first time I have had such thoughts, but this week--maybe because I am starting a new lap--the metaphor notion arrived more vividly.

You come to traffic and what to do, take the highway or the backroads?  I don't have a gps system but I understand that some sophisticated versions can tell you which way to go on the basis of traffic.

 I don't think the entrepreneurs have developed a gps system that would apply when there is traffic in our heads. This would be a valuable tool.when confounded about which way to go.  Should I stay in this home? job?  Should I raise my kid with a strict hand because he is acting out--or bathe him or her with unconditional love.  Should one stay in a marriage that is rocky and threatening to either destroy your shocks or make you numb--or stay the course and pave the road?  Should I move to timbuktu or stay put?.

A GPS system would be good for such cerebral traffic, no?

Last summer there was a very happy high school reunion that I attended with a bunch of us who are over the hill but enjoying the ride. I go to each of these and they are all fun, but this one was particularly joyful. Since then someone opened a facebook site just for our class and it has been active.  One fellow created a string: "Who is still with their high school sweethearts?"  Another string, "Who still has their high school ring?" A third, "Does anybody know what became of ..."

The fourth string was of interest to me as well.  Someone asked if anyone had a list of those who have passed.  One such list had been available at the reunion and I have referenced it in a blog I wrote around that time.  However, what has happened  because of the social media is that people who had not attended the reunion in August have joined in the class conversation with the result that more names have been added to the list that nobody wants to be on.

I learn yesterday that a fellow I took driver's ed with is now gone. I had not seen this guy since we graduated.  Someone posts his obituary and I see that he had become an academic like me. He worked at various institutions and had become astonishingly accomplished.  A woman who endured the same English class I was in during tenth grade had become a prolific literary critic.  I read book reviews regularly and never noticed her name (likely because she used her married name).  Her obit was posted and she apparently was at the top of the class in terms of literary reviewers.  I see her smile and hear her self-effacing high school comments and even though I had not seen her in nearly half a century I am sad to read about this.  There are others too that I'd not known had passed.  At one point I hesitated to look at the facebook string lest I read about someone else who I can hear laughing in my memory bank and who is now gone.

Sometimes you hit traffic and there is no way out.  Both Ralph and Merle died of cancer.  No alternative routes to dodge the effects.  No GPS system that can make a suggestion to allow the journey to continue. For those of us still on the road, it might be helpful to view that traffic as something our friends who are gone would like to have the opportunity to address.  And employ our GPS systems to make our time on the road as happy as it can be.

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