Through the years, the world has been brought into our homes first by print, then radio, television and eventually internet. At the tips of our fingers we can “visit” anywhere in the country, and “meet” amazing people. I know I have found some of my best friends via message boards, Twitter, and countless other social websites over the last 15 – 20 years. But is any of it as amazing as “real life?”
My husband and so many of our friends travel across this country all year long, seeing places and meeting people most of us can only dream of experiencing outside of our laptops and smart phones. A couple we consider dear friends has recently embarked on moving across the country, taking their time to visit many of this country’s National Parks. Their photos and Snapchats take my breath away.
I love that they are doing this. Sometimes I sit back and think how I could never just pack up and move as they have done, shaking my head a bit thinking, “they’re crazy.” But even more, though, I marvel at their courage, and I think to myself that maybe they’ve got life figured out way better than any of the rest of us.
My husband and I haven’t taken our friends lead to the extreme that they’ve gone, but we have taken more time the last few weeks to just get away from the house and get out in the world. My husband’s tour schedule is slowing down a bit, and we have more days together to enjoy versus just trying to tackle a to do list. We we’ve headed out with no destination in mind. We may not venture far, but we do escape “real life” for awhile and find… real life. We find the places you can find on the internet or in the news.
On a recent ride, we stumbled upon a little community not too far from Nashville. We’d been riding for a long time, and we were starting to get sore and a little grumpy with thirst. The little general store was like an oasis. Complete with two older gentlemen sitting out front.
As my husband went inside to get us drinks, I was happy to stretch my legs in the parking lot and look at the map on my phone to determine where we were.
But once I looked up and out of my phone, I found myself very quickly enamored with the little community. American flags. Old trucks in the parking lot right beside newer SUVs. People pulling up to the pumps and exchanging greetings with the gentlemen out front.
You could immediately tell this was a close-knit community full of “good ol’ boys and girls.” No one had an age or race attached to them. No one had a hierarchy of jobs or successes on paper. There was an underlying level of respect for all who stopped in to the store.
This. This, I felt in my own heart, was the true heartbeat of America. Not the anger and upset shown on the media. American flags swayed in the soft breeze, and you felt a patriotism and honor in every corner.
When my husband came back with drinks, I told him we should scrap all of our life plans. Sell everything, move to the country and open a general store like this one. He laughed and told me I might be surprised how easy it would be to convince him to do that.
As we put on our helmets and rode away, back home as the sun set, I felt this peace and certainty that deep down the heart of America is as strong as it ever was. I said a prayer that little communities like the one we had just stopped in continue to thrive in their own ways. And I definitely planned to take more back roads and discover more gems hidden along the blacktops and gravel roads.