Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Head Full Of Doubt / Road Full Of Promise

Driving by the woods on a fall evening, and I've got miles to go before I sleep. The trees are tall, and their leaves are brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow and brown. One can hardly remember the green leaves, who were there but two weeks ago. The highway is lined with them: hundreds, thousands. A standing army of oaks and hickory trees in the Shawnee Hills region of Kentucky.

Neuschwanstein Castle, for instance!
I am driving South again. I, like Brad, have been traveling a lot recently. This trip is to help my boyfriend move home after his month-long family medicine rotation in little Madisonville, Kentucky. I've traveled a lot this past year: North to Michigan, Illinois and Indiana; South to Georgia; East to South Korea and Japan; West to Germany and Austria. I've talked to a lot of people and marveled at the beauty of other's people's homelands. It is in traveling where I am truly reminded of conservatism's place in the world, and our need for it.

Now, in October, I end my world travels in western Kentucky. It's coal-mining country, and the people-watching is humbling. A person can drive across town in five minutes and there are three separate train lines constantly being used. The court house is surrounded by statues remembering local men who served in their country's military in the Civil War (Confederacy) through the Vietnam War.

The community is small, so goodness freely given pervades and abuse of liberty cracks the cornerstones. I've been reading and mulling over the numerous pieces about conservatism and the culture, especially the latest by Claes on American intellectual conservatism. In light of the recent Republican debates, one would not know such an intellectualism exists in the public sphere!

Whenever I drive long distances, I always turn on and sing along loudly to The Avett Brothers. The first two stanzas from their song "Head Full of Doubt/ Road Full of Promise" are faintly prophetic:
There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
And it comes in black and it comes in white
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it
When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it.
2011 seems dismal, even with the brightly colored leaves cheerily waving as we drive by in our close-topped cars. I am young, and I am not angry. I have student loans to pay off, and I'm happy to work three jobs because I can. There is "no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes," as Zora Neale Hurston so snappily said; "No, I do not weep at the world--I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife."

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