The Grey Roads

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I get asked a lot about what exactly are Grey Roads.  The obvious answer is that the Grey Roads are literally the grey lines on average maps that connect two points.  These roads are typically 'locals only' or side-road detours when the much faster routes are closed for whatever reason.  They are usually an inconvenient out of the way hassle or simply an exhale-inducing annoyance creating a painful roundabout and lots of frustration.  The irritation of being on these inconvenient routes usually leads to increased speeds to get back on track again and make up that lost time

  Most people do not travel on these grey roads because it slows them down from reaching their destination.  For most people, that's all that matters - the destination.  Getting to the end of journey as fast as possible.   For my Mother, those roads were the most important thing to see in the world.  I was lucky in my youth that I was able to travel extensively and she would force me to get off the highways and take these Grey Roads.  She would say that "there's so much to see out there" and get so excited to find a random event or encounter off the beaten path.  I had the pleasure of experiencing countless road, rail, and boat trips with her in different parts of the world, but the one thing that remained constant was the look she would give me if I tried to take the fastest route to get somewhere.  She would always push to "find the grey roads" and travel those roads in a geographic crisscross to get to where we were supposed to be going.  At the time, the tripping took far more time that was necessary and the memories created were just breathtaking tales of the local mundane.   I never really understood what the meaning of it was.   As I grew older, I began to see the method to her madness.  The metaphor of these roads began to take shape and I realized that they were simply training wheels telling me to just slow down.  You will reach your destination but don't miss out on the moments of real life that are happening right now around you.  It's those moments that will be the moments that take your breath away.  Those moments that you don't count on; those visceral moments that stay with you for the rest of your life.   We are a destination oriented society.  There is no happiness in the journey anymore.  The goal is to get there fast so you can do something else that is more enjoyable.  The journey itself has been degraded into a laborious chore that has to be endured.     What does that say about life?   The destination for us all, unfortunately is death.  It depends on where you are in the world if that fact is to be celebrated or not.  We can all agree on that.  Why rush to get to that destination when we have the choice to just slow down to cherish those seemingly little, everyday emotions today?   The cliche of what I am talking about has been repackaged a million times over, but it's all the same theme.  I doubt to this day that my Mother meant to teach something like that.  I think she lived that type of life genuinely; taking slow purposeful breaths surrounded by real people, living simple lives on the Grey Roads of the world.

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