Over the last five months, I have put numerous miles on my car traveling back and forth from Yorktown to Lynchburg. At this point, I think I could probably do the drive with my eyes closed, but then I would miss out on curiosities along the way.
Tonight on I-64, I was trimming right along when out of nowhere comes a shopping cart. Luckily not in the road, just turned over on the side, as if something out of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. What made it weird is that the last exit I passed was over 3 miles back and the next exit was another 4 miles down the road. That does not even count the miles off the interstate to the closest grocery or big box store.
It set my mind to wandering how it got there...had someone absconded it from the local Walmart and took it joy riding down the side of the road, was it the refuse of some alien abduction dragged partway up in the tractor beam only to be released to fall amongst the roadside clutter, was there someone quivering in the weeds hoping I would not see them? I know one thing, there has to be an interesting story there.
Sometimes our lives become well worn paths, like the ones I have carved across Virginia. We find ourselves on autopilot, making the turns and arriving at our destination without even thinking about it or seeing whats going on around us. The people we pass in our travels every day are like the shopping cart, interesting stories waiting to be told, only for want of an ask. When we take the time to listen, in some small way, we become part of their story.
If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. —Barry Lopez