I’ve been thinking about roads lately. Where I live in the world, it is never more obvious that modern roads exist in the same place as they always have. Where ever there are people there are roads. Roads are a manmade invention; a manmade necessity, now and in the past. As you drive along the roads around here you can never be surprised at seeing an old water tank, ancient wall, crumbling Roman dwelling all within view of your carriage. It is these vestiges of the past which made the thought occur to me, that although pavement has replaced what was once just a dusty clearing worn down by the numerous feet, of human and animals and later the tracks of carts and carriages, someone long ago put down a road there. Someone long ago decided to move from one point to another and tried to find their way. Perhaps their way was a good one; a direct and easy amble from one place to another and so others started to tread that same path. That was the start of a road. The road began to get established as it was used again and again. If a stranger came along one day and asked a local the way to where the road led, the local would point them in the direction of the new road. A road thus used, draws to it buildings that service those going along the road. In a case like this when I think of necessity being the mother of invention, I remember sitting on a stopped train in India years ago, deciding which of the vendors’ along the track would provide my lunch. It amazed me then and amazes me now that one could sit on a train and get everything provided to her by passing money through a window and being handed their tea, samosa, or puri.
I think about the modern roads being a result of one person’s step along a path and I think about my 23 year-old self travelling around India and I draw the points together to wonder where the heck I ended up and how? See, I started out on a road, putting one foot in front of the other and drawing to my path what I needed to get along. Initially, as a child I drew to me books, hobbies, friends and foes. As a teenager I gathered a wider net of experiences, a whole load of mistakes and hiccups and a solid education that would lead me to university. At university, I attracted more life experiences, higher learning and a degree that would allow me to get a job in the real world. In the real world, as I continued along my road, I stopped at various venues trying my hand at different occupations. I have been a shop girl in a butchers, a waitress in a café, a nightshift operator, a nightshift truck dispatcher, a receptionist, an office manager and finally an executive assistant. In this last stretch of road, I gave up all paying enterprises for the roles of wife and mother. I lived in the country of my birth and travelled far and wide. I lived in the country of my mother’s birth and finally that of my daughter’s. The road that I have tread has lead me to where I am today and I look around me and think that I took a truly unique way. Shades of Frank Sinatra singing My Way. I am not sure if others would want to follow.
I sat in the car this morning on New Year’s Eve Day with my daughter in my lap going towards Bodrum. I wondered where the next step on my route would take me. It is a New Year’s and the world seems to love the best of past year lists, New Year’s resolutions lists, Old Year regrets lists. Lists regarding things to do in the New Year and things to not do. I used to love the concept of drawing an imaginary temporal line in the sand and declaring myself on the way to a new me through various resolutions, but now I realise that I have actually gotten where I have through not doing any of this. I have gotten along by just living my life day to day. It is the minute little decisions that have seemed to have delivered me where I am today. I remember trying to find a cheap holiday online for my friend and I to go away on a summer holiday. I went around in circles on the numerous travel websites, until my pregnant, no-nonsense co-worker from upstairs came down to make a cup of tea in the kitchen. She asked me how my vacation search was going and I told her that it was going terribly. I just couldn’t seem to find anything suitable and now I was second guessing my going at all for a number of practical reasons. She brushed me off, came over to my desk and got on my computer. Within seconds she had found a vacation to Bitez, Turkey; it ticked all of the right boxes and so I booked it. It was on that vacation that I met my husband. Of course, I didn’t book the vacation in order to meet my husband. I booked the vacation to get out of London, get a suntan during the day and drunk at night and that is the exact point. The person who put their foot down from the village where I live to go towards the town where I used to live, wasn’t thinking that in hundreds of years, his one footstep would have created a smooth tarmacked road with services and houses along it, as seen by running boards that quickly get their passengers to and fro. That person just took a step, for one reason or another. Maybe he wanted to visit a friend or go fishing or find a wife. No matter his reason he put one foot in front of the other and in doing so created something bigger than his footprint, just like I and everyone else have done our whole lives.
I do look at my cohorts lives and wonder if I am a total fool for not owning my own home or having a Canada Savings Bond. If I am going to grow old and have to eat cat food because I didn’t get a career plan and stick to it. If I have wasted my life or lived it? The only answer to the last question occurs to me as I careen down the road with my husband at the wheel and my precious cargo on my lap. If my life came to an end right now, in this place, on this road, in my last moments I would see my life pass between my eyes, see the road I have travelled and smile, because it was my unique, special experience that I found and travelled myself. The Turkish have an expression: “Her şey yolunda”. ‘Her şey’ means everything and ‘yol’ means road, path, way or route. I like to translate ‘yol’ within the spirit of the nomadic people the word originates from and so translate the phrase as “Everything is on the road” even though it would be better translated as “Everything is alright” or “It is all going to plan”. I know that if an outsider looked at my life they would think that there was a crazy person in the driver’s seat, a person who had no idea what they were doing or where they were going, and they would be right. I didn’t know where I would end up. I didn’t have a plan or a destination. I just had two feet that I put, one in front of the other. I have done this my whole life and I will continue to do it in this New Year. The only difference now, from when I was younger, or from even a few weeks ago is that I will not second guess myself. I will not fret about the future. I will not worry about which way I am going because I have learned enough on this road to know that it doesn’t matter. I will just keep on moving, because I know that wherever I end up is alright. “Her şey yolunda” and that’s all I need. Happy New Year!