Many years ago in my late teens, I moved to the Northern Virginia area to work as a bartender. At the time, I met an older fellow, early 30’s or so, with whom I shared some “common interests” and foolishly teamed with for sporadic journeys to the streets of D.C. It was an education in and of itself, although it certainly wouldn’t be one I would recommend to anyone seeking to “graduate.” I discovered a world I wasn’t familiar with, one which seemed to hold a new revelation with each turn of a corner.
Fortunately, I survived, albeit not unscathed, even to this day carrying reminders of the foolishness of youth. As well though, I also carry this particular revelation; that in merely turning a corner, one can discover an entirely new landscape. The choice remains for the individual to make. Once the turn is made, does he continue walking that way?
There were a number of corners turned during that time that drew me to pause, but I released myself to the guidance of another, one who had grown accustomed to the world at hand. It was an integral part of his existence. As I consider it now, I don’t think he was interested in turning new, undiscovered corners. Where he was, fed him, as it began to feed me. He was enamored, as I too was drawn closer and closer to that same, seeming rapture.
That which seems “real” always holds something else if we’re accepting. As it goes, there was indeed part of me that was accepting of the subtle reminders lying in wait beyond my consciousness, drawing my attention one day to a revelation that I think of from time to time, coming back this morning as a prompt to share here.
During our journeys to these streets, we were typically visiting what some would consider the underbelly of life. These were the streets avoided by most. There were no tourist traps, nothing to write home about, nothing but a raw existence with few rules but survival. But one day, while walking with this fellow, we turned a corner and found ourselves in a completely different neighborhood. A new “look.” A new “feel.” At that moment, I thought of how close we were to this, while right behind us, back around the corner was that.
Granted, some may consider this rather simplistic, but the lesson didn’t escape me … that we are much closer to something “new” than we may recognize. There is always a way out.
Many live on streets like the ones I visited those many years ago, but as well, there are those that live on streets just like this, though not in a physical sense, trapped in a way of life that seems defeating. These folks may live in homes much nicer than any you could imagine, but their minds and spirits have been drawn into a downward spiral. They see no way out and although they may see a corner down the way, they simply cannot muster the energy to take the turn and explore.
No matter where we are. No matter how things appear to be, there is a corner close by, one that beckons … one that will not come to us, but require us to take the first step. From there, who knows, perhaps we’ll take the turn and find the landscape will change in ways previously unimaginable.