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The journey

In to the Wind

September 19, 2012
By Mike Gilchrist , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

It has been said that life is a journey. It takes us places we dreamed of as a youth, or takes us places we never dreamed of in our youth. Robert Frost wrote in his poem, The Road not Taken,

"I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference"

Any person with a sense of adventure would steadfastly hold to the belief they too took the road less traveled. In reality, the choices we make are a complex union of impulsive decisions, creative decisions, decisions made in deference to others, and happenchance. Most of the roads I've traveled fall in to the latter category. I've often said I go through life bouncing off walls, but generally come up smelling of roses.

These musings, which comprise my column, are being compiled after making one of those choices, the decision to check out of the corporate world and make a passage to a simpler life. This existence was one I perhaps dreamed about in my youth. Perhaps it was a utopian ideal that traversed the pathways of my decision processes and left a trace, a filament, a small thread that might eventually be woven into a reality.

This reality is my present. That present involves the reassembly of my family in a place so far removed from the reality of their past, for which I'm sure no filament of imagination prepared them.

During my youth, when I had the wanderlust, I used to imagine I was a man of the world. I fooled myself into thinking I didn't need anybody. A simple read of Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience could send me on a romantic thought route where I, unwittingly, not unwillingly perceived one generation's injustice against another.

Perhaps such thinking is merely a rite of passage and I am no different than say you. While never thinking I was better than anybody else, those romantic thoughts did lead me to believe I was different than most.

In my life there were times when I was alone. It was me against the world. And to tell you the truth, I did come to the realization I needed people. I became acutely aware I would not make a good hermit. I feed off other people. It takes other people to make me creative. It takes other people to make me whole. At long last I figured out I was not alone, and didn't want to be. Even when I was only a part of the crowd, with no one in particular, and everyone in general, I have found solace. A cabin in the woods (or on Walden Pond) is not for me, at least alone.

Pain and suffering are best endured alone. Happiness and joy are best experienced with someone you love. The truth of the matter is people are generally as happy as they've a mind to be. It is your responsibility as a balanced human being to strive for happiness.

I am a native son. I didn't escape my childhood home, but instead followed an opportunity. Early in the 80s, on the cusp of things beginning to go wrong for the economy of Iowa, the company I worked for transferred me to Florida.

I never made the move for the weather, or for the scenery; it was purely a financial move; one that in retrospect was a good move at the time, because Iowa suffered an economic depression during those Reagan years which most of the rest of the country did not record. Iowans didn't need Willy Nelson to tell them the economics of the era, and certain free trade decisions were causing losses in family farming and an out-migration of manufacturing jobs to the rust belt, Mexico, and the Pacific Rim. My situation was one of coming up smelling of roses; things were good in Florida during the 80s.

One thing I always missed during the 24 years I spent away from Iowa was the change of season. For many years, we made a pilgrimage to the mountains of North Carolina. The main reason for those pilgrimages was a primal need to "see" a change of season, to ground my being in the woods, the fall colors, and the wildlife.

An assertion I commonly made during those early years was that every step I took away from Iowa was a step ahead. Financially, this was indeed the case; spiritually, and emotionally it was gross rationalization. My heart never really left Iowa; I was misplaced. The good Lord looks after Iowans, and I am proof positive.

Once a person spends 10 years in Florida, they are "allowed" the moniker of "semi-native." Oh Iowa, I am a native son. Oh Iowa, I am back. Oh Iowa, embolden my children with the same ethics for which you prepared me for my journey.

These musings tell of an adventure back to those roots. They tell the tale of the trials and travails of the ruralification of me, my family, and those beloved animals who call Gilly Hollow home.

My efforts here are a labor of love; as much for the love of my home, as for the labor of love a creative outlet allows.

Until next time--

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on the "Local Columns" button.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2005 - 2012 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342



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